It took seven years, three different head coaches, three different quarterbacks and a late game winning fade route to finally end the losing streak to Florida State for the Miami Hurricanes. There was a point in the game, after Auden Tate scored with only a minute and 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, it looked like things would remain as usual. This time was different though. Quarterback Malik Rosier took the field and raised his hands asking the away crowd to get louder. Not only did he ask for the pressure but he delivered under it as well. In a rivalry series where legends are made he etched his name in the history books at Doak Campbell stadium.
Points did not come easy in this matchup. At halftime there were only three points on the board from Florida State and none from Miami. This, despite rushes of 30 and 34 yards from Jacques Patrick in the first half, which was big for Miami. For the entire game no Miami rusher had over 30 yards. Mark Walton was held to 25 yards and an average of just over two yards a carry. Through the first half, Rosier only had four completions on 15 attempts with 34 yards. James Blackman also had an underwhelming first half, going seven completions on 13 attempts for 52 yards and an interception.
The Hurricane’s defense despite giving up 200 yards rushing earned their billing as one of the best in the nation. As a team the defense swarmed the line of scrimmage, hitting Florida State for nine tackles for loss and four sacks on Blackman. The “turnover chain” also made two appearances thanks to big interceptions by Dee Delaney and Michael Jackson.
Physicality At It’s Finest
The rivalry between these two teams has been known for some historic hits and this game added to the legacy. There was hits on both sides that resulted in multiple players leaving the game or being tended during the game. The first big hit was delivered by Florida State’s Cam Akers. On a big run, he lowered his shoulder and ran defensive back Sheldrick Redwine flat over. It’s not completely sure whether this was the hit that ultimately forced Redwine to leave the game. He was visibly rattled after this hit and would not finish the game.
In the second half it would be Miami Hurricane’s wideout Ahmon Richards putting the Seminoles on notice to keep their head on a swivel. During a read option by Rosier, Richards would peel back to catch a crack back block on Seminoles defensive back A.J. Westbrook square in the chest. It left him on the floor and forced the officials to take an injury timeout. Although Westbrook would reenter the game, his play was not the same. Most tackles that he was involved in after that block took a long time for him to get up and gather his self.
This game resulted in many injuries from key players from both sides. On the Hurricane’s side tailback Mark Walton was injured. Offensive lineman Navaughn Donaldson had to be helped off the field in the fourth quarter. Wideout Ahmon Richards was also absent late in the fourth because of recurring pain in his hamstring, which has hampered him the entire season. Florida State walked out hurt as well. Tailback Jacques Patrick had to leave the game. Tate scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter with basically one shoulder. Officials in the game had to force him to leave the field because of how much pain he was noticeably in. Akers and Blackman also had moments where they were hurt. Going forward it will be interesting to see how much the damage from this game effects both teams.
Big Play Berrios
The unanimous player of the game has to be Braxton Berrios for that performance. In year’s past he has been close to changing the outcome in the rivalry. He almost ran a punt return back before being tripped up by one defender last year. This year he wouldn’t be denied. After being misfired early in the game by Rosier, on the way back to the huddle Berrios told a defender “I’ll be back”. Two receiving touchdowns later and a 44 yard punt return, that promise was kept. After scoring zero points in the first half, Berrios was a direct influence on the 24 points that were put up in the second half. He consistently won his matchup in coverage and was key on the last drive getting a first down while also going out of bounds to save a timeout.
History was made by stopping the streak. Berrios has his own streak, having scored in five consecutive games. The senior from North Carolina has remained patient during his time at Miami and when the moment presented itself on one of the biggest stages he succeeded.
Not to change the narrative but a quote from Martin Luther King stands out about the final drive. In a speech entitled the Drum Major Instinct King states “True greatness comes not by favoritism but by fitness”. The highest ranked running back, wide receiver and offensive lineman were all out of the game that last drive. Miami went to true freshman Corey Gaynor to block after the Donaldson injury. He held his own and did not cause any negative plays down the stretch. It was Travis Homer, the backup running back who was playing special teams most of the day, that had two first down runs on that final drive to help Miami get in field goal position.
Making the game winning catch was Darrell Langham. The six foot six redshirt junior, only played two snaps the entire game and scored over an All-American cornerback who is most likely first round pick.
The biggest plays that were made towards the end of the game all came from the most “unlikely” sources.