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Seminoles Prove Why They Are Elite; Canes Prove That They Need Work; UM Loses 30-26

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If this was a heavyweight title fight, it could be said that the challenger had the champion on the ropes for the whole fight, but could not sustain the effort and was knocked out in the final round. That is what precisely happened Saturday night in Miami. The Hurricanes led the Seminoles for almost 57 minutes, but FSU was in the lead when the game was over. FSU will continue its quest for a national title while the Hurricanes will play in a lesser known bowl game and try to justify this season as being a success when it is nothing more than what it is, another season of irrelevance.

Once again, Miami cannot get out of its own way and protect a big lead against WInston and FSU
Once again, Miami cannot get out of its own way and protect a big lead against WInston and FSU
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time in one year, Dalvin Cook took a knife and stabbed it into the hearts of the Hurricane faithful. The first was on National Signing Day when he chose Florida State over Miami.  The second was Saturday night as he danced and juked his way into the end zone with the game winning touchdown to derail any hopes of Miami ending the Seminoles national title aspirations.

With 3:05 left to play in the game, and Miami clinging to a three-point lead, Cook took a hand off from Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston and raced 26 yard with what would prove to be the game winning score.  The Seminoles secured a come from behind victory over the Miami Hurricanes 30-26 before a near capacity crowd of 76,530 at Sun Life Stadium.

Miami falls to 6-4 and 3-3 in the ACC, while Florida State improves to 10-0 and 7-0 in the ACC where they have won the Atlantic Division again. The Noles have won 26 consecutive games.

The Canes have virtually no shot at winning the ACC Coastal and will play in a mediocre bowl game for the second consecutive season. They are already bowl eligible, but have two inconsequential games remaining at Virginia and at home against Pittsburgh. They will be playing for pride and for a better bowl game, but their shot at playing in the ACC Championship Game was tossed out the window with this loss.

Miami had lead the entire game up until that final sequence of downs for Florida State. Miami made too many mistakes in the second half and could not stop Winston and Co. when it counted. The loss still looms large for UM coach Al Golden who desperately needed a signature win at home against an upper echelon team. After four seasons, that victory still eludes him.

"I'm real proud of the effort," Golden said after the game. "They made a few more plays than we did. Our guys fought their tails off."

The mistakes made by Miami were numerous. The lowlights are as follows:

Freshman kicker Michael Badgley, despite hitting two long field goals, had an extra point attempt blocked and missed a 29-yard field goal.  Those four points were the margin of victory for Florida State.

Clive Walford fumbled after making a 25-yard reception on the first play of the game. Then, the other tight end, Standish Dobard, getting extensive playing time for the first game this season, made a huge play out of a check down, but carried the ball like he was holding a loaf of bread and turned the ball over in the Seminoles end of the field. Braxton Berrios also dropped a sure touchdown in the end zone on a ball perfectly placed by Brad Kaaya, who played wise above his years. The mistakes were numerous and you cannot do that and try to defeat the defending national champions.

Kaaya, making his first start in this series, finished the game 16-of-34 for 316 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, on the final drive of the game. Duke Johnson led Miami with 130 yards rushing and one score. Walford was the Canes leading receiver with 127 yards on only four catches, but he did have a touchdown. He also fumbled on the first play of the game.

"We did a lot of things that hurt ourselves more than they did," Johnson said.

For the Seminoles, Winston finished the game 25-of-42 for 304 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Cook finished with 92 yards and two scores. Cardinal Newman graduate Travis Rudolph led FSU in receiving with four catches for 65 yards.

"We can beat any team," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said after the game. "Any team, any time, any where."

Winston had all day to pass and there was no pressure applied by the defense, despite getting one sack on the night. Miami rushed three the whole night and Perryman said that Winston had so long to throw that he could make a pizza back there.

The Hurricanes started out like gangbusters, but like we have seen many times before, they ran out of gas and shot themselves in the foot too many times before the final whistle blew.  They held the lead for almost 57 minutes, but could not close the door on the champs.

Golden sang the praises of left tackle Ereck Flowers, who was making his first start since having surgery a few weeks ago and did an extremely good job against the FSU front seven.

"That guy is a warrior," Golden said. "It was crazy what that guy did tonight. He played his ass off."

In the first quarter, the Canes moved 83 yards in 9 plays on it's second drive of the game as Kaaya hit Phillip Dorsett with a 27-yard strike over the middle and Miami held a 7-0 lead with 6:57 to play in the first quarter.  The Noles were stacking the box and forcing Kaaya to beat them vertically and he did just that as he went 2 for 3 on the drive for 63 yards.

After holding the Noles to a three and out on their next drive, the Canes marched 71 yards with Kaaya and Dorsett hooking up again to take the ball down to the Seminoles five-yard line.  Two plays later El Duque punched it in from the one. The PAT was blocked by Jalen Ramsey, but Miami led 13-0 with 1:26 to play in the first quarter. The score tied Johnson with Melvin Bratton and Tyrone Moss for fifth place on the all-time UM career rushing TD list.

Jesus WIlson coughed up the kickoff on the return as Deon Bush laid his helmet right into the football and Corn Elder recovered for Miami.  The Canes took over on the FSU 27-yard line.  Michael Badgley turned that into three points with a 45-yard field goal after Kaaya misfired on a third down pass to Johnson.  The 45-yard effort was a career long for the freshman.

The Canes dominated the first quarter of play and despite turning it over to FSU on it's first offensive play, they controlled the ball for 10:20. They also ran 20 offensive plays, compared to nine for FSU.

FSU got its offense out of baggage claim early in the second quarter as Cook, a former Miami Central product who played with Joe Yearby in high school last season, raced 44 yards with a hand off and cut the Miami lead to 16-7 with his first score of the night. The Noles marched 69 yards in five plays and the drive lasted only 1:17.

Miami returned the favor and Walford led Miami to another touchdown. The Canes went 75 yards in four plays in 1:57 as Walford inherited the middle of the field and ran a simple seam route that he took 61 yards for the score. Walford played a big factor in the Canes' early success Saturday night. Despite fumbling on the first play of the game, he has come up big when it counted.

FSU came back with a 42-yard Roberto Aguayo field goal to cut the Miami lead to 23-10 with 8:10 to play in the half. The drive was sustained by a 22-yard catch and run by Homestead's Ermon Lane who many considered as the top receiver in the state of Florida last season.

Miami picked off Winston's pass in the final minute of the first half and carried a 23-10 lead into the locker room at the break.

The Seminoles cut the lead to six when Winston, facing a third and goal at the 12, had his pass deflected off of a UM defender and Karlos Williams caught it out of the air and rambled in for the touchdown.  The Seminoles marched 85 yards in 11 plays and took 4:20 off the clock.

Said Fisher, "Sometimes you have to have a little luck on your side."

Miami was on the move, but Dobard, who made a nice reception of a Kaaya pass, ran down the right sideline and held the ball like a loaf of bread. He made a 33-yard completion.  However, the ball was knocked out of his hands and the Seminoles recovered it and took possession first and ten.  From that, Aguayo hit a 37-yard field goal to start the fourth quarter to cut the Miami lead to 23-20. The Canes were fortunate to get off the field on third down as the pass for Greene was too high.

On the next drive, Badgley hit another career long field goal, this time from 46 yards out to stretch the lead back to six points at 26-20 with 11:01 to play in the game.

Aguayo would trot out on the next series to cut it back to three as he hit a 53-yard field goal to make the score 26-23. The defense made a nice third down stop as Antonio Crawford broke up a pass intended for Rudolph.