Ok, got it. Yep. Message received loud and clear.
A healthy number of you don’t seem to appreciate re-living Miami’s overwhelming success from 1983-2001 (and other great games out of those eras) and would rather have State of the U focus on the present full time, while banging the drum for Al Golden to be run out of town on a rail.
At least that’s what I consistently read on Facebook. News flash: you CAN appreciate the history of the program AND still get amped for the present football season (or be overly angry and pessimistic over the state of the program, or both – the attitudes seem to range from cautious optimism to borderline rage). It is, you know, possible to look at both. Here at State of the U, we load you up with positional previews, practice reports, recruiting updates, and much more to keep you in the know about what’s going on with the program. We also remember the great teams, players, and coaches that helped make “the U” into a household collegiate brand.
But, if we want to focus on Al Golden (and I’m not disputing that he’s on a well-deserved hot seat) instead of remembering Wide Right I…..ok, I’ll bite, in my own historical way.
This week, we’ll look at one of the most memorable wins during Golden’s tenure: the 2012 rally in Atlanta against the Yellow Jackets. Mike James had a field day, much of it coming in the final 2 drives of the game, to help lead Miami over Georgia Tech 42-36 in overtime.
The Canes struck gold early and stormed out front 19-0. Stephen Morris, who threw for 436 yards on the day, hit speedster Phillip Dorsett for a 65-yard touchdown to start the action. James bulled in from a yard out to extend the lead to 19-0.
But just a few plays earlier, the air was collectively sucked out of Bobby Dodd Stadium, as Malcolm Lewis held his leg. Tech linebacker grabbed Lewis at the 4-yard line and brought him down for the tackle. Lewis’s foot became trapped underneath Watts. Lewis’s body spun. His foot didn’t. His foot hung in a disgustingly limp manner, as Golden raced onto the field and hugged his injured wide receiver. It would be a dislocated ankle for Lewis, who would miss the rest of the season.
Although Miami huddled and promised to take care of things for Lewis, it was Georgia Tech who woke up. Tech QB Tevin Washington carried his team back into the game with his running and timely passing. Tech would rush for 287 yards in the game, with Washington running into the end zone three times. The final touchdown run came with 10:06 left in the third quarter. The scoreboard read: Georgia Tech 36, Miami 19.
The script was completely flipped from the first quarter, and Miami needed an apparent miracle. As it turned out, all they would need would be the arm of Morris and the legs of James. The strong-running James ran through three would-be tacklers on the way to a 15-yard touchdown that drew UM within a score early in the fourth quarter.
And then, with two minutes left and 91 yards to cover, Morris went to work, completing four consecutive passes to wide receiver Davon Johnson to push Miami into Tech territory. With seconds remaining, Morris dumped the ball off to James, who weaved his way into the end zone to tie the game at 36.
An elated Miami team wasn’t done. In overtime, Tech drove the ball down to the UM 2-yard line. Facing fourth down, Paul Johnson rolled the dice and sent his offense back onto the field instead of the kicker. Washington kept the ball and snuck off guard to the right side. Eddie Johnson and a host of Miami defenders stuffed him short of the first down marker.
James delivered the coup de grace two plays later. Running off tackle to the weak side of the field, James raced around and past Tech defenders, beating safety Isaiah Johnson to the pylon and setting off a wild celebration on the Miami sideline.
The thrilling win highlighted an otherwise disappointing season, which has seemed to be the case in each of Golden’s seasons (Ohio State in 2011, Ga Tech in 2012, Florida in 2013, and Virginia Tech in 2014). However, Miami won the bizarre tiebreaker to claim its only ACC Coastal division crown. As part of the self-imposed sanctions in the midst of the NCAA investigation, Miami would pass up its only opportunity to play in the ACC Championship Game, instead choosing to end its season in Durham, NC with a 52-45 win over Duke.
Still, it was one of the most unforgettable wins – and games – in Golden’s tenure, and provided Miami fans with a rollercoaster ride that ended in exhilarating fashion.