He ripped off his helmet and raised a weary arm amongst the throng of orange-clad teammates mobbing him in the end zone. For Frank Gore, this simple celebration was a slight gesture for the incredible adversity he had overcome to that point.
Gore’s 18-yard touchdown run in overtime clinched Miami’s improbable comeback from a 10-0 second half deficit to steal a victory before a nationally-televised audience on a Friday night (moved from Monday due to Hurricane Frances). If anyone deserved a turn in the spotlight and a little good fortune, it was Gore.
Gore, who was named 2001 Big East freshman of the year by The Sporting News, was stricken with the injury bug his prior two seasons – suffering season-ending injuries in each of his knees. A terrible finish to two seasons after Gore waited his turn behind Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, and Najeh Davenport.
Now, at home, in a battle against archrival and Top-5 foe FSU, Gore – repaired knees and all – would be asked to carry the mail against a talent-laden Seminole defense.
Gore didn’t disappoint. He did what he needed to do – grind for the tough yards to move the chains. He finished the game with 89 yards on 18 carries. After a Chris Rix fumble, Gore would finish off the Seminoles on two carries. On second down, he took the hand running off tackle to the right, cut back to the left and sprinted through the attempted tackle of Bryant McFadden into the end zone.
Brock Berlin woke up the Miami offense in just enough time to escape with a victory. Down 10-3, Berlin led the Canes downfield in 42 seconds, finding pay dirt when he hit
Roscoe Parrish Sinorice Moss on a screen pass for a 30-yard score. Parrish weaved through the FSU defense and found the end zone in front of a stunned FSU fan base.
The irony? This game, effectively, came down to a kick. Again. And it was one that – surprise, surprise – was missed by a kicker with a spear on his helmet.
With just over 4 minutes left in the game and leading 10-3, Xavier Beitia, in his first game at the Orange Bowl since he pulled the would-be winning kick wide left as time expired in 2002, put toe to leather on a 35-yard boot. Devin Hester dove around the end and blocked the kick.
Although not as dramatic a miss as Dan Mowrey, Matt Munyon, and Gerry Thomas’s game-ending ducks, it was special teams – formerly a staple of great Miami teams – that made the play that backed up an incredible defensive effort and sparked the offense, who rallied with two touchdowns on its final two drives.
It was a night of redemption for Gore, one of the greatest wins in recent memory, Miami’s third win in less than a year over FSU, and a hell of a start to what has become a…well…hell-ish ACC campaign over the past decade.