September 7, 2003, it was a game chock full of future pro-Canes and Brock Berlin’s first home contest in a Miami uniform against his former team and UM’s arch rival the Florida gator. Heading into this early season match-up, Miami was ranked 3rd in the nation riding a 22 game home winning streak, while the gator was #18.
The game started off with the Canes looking great as Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for what would be the first of many touchdowns in his glorious career. After a gator field goal, the late great Sean Taylor would later get into the return act, taking a punt 67 yards to the Gator 15 yard line. Miami would settle for its own field goal and the lead was 10-3 Canes with 6 minutes left in the first period.
Shortly after, the wheels came off of The U’s bus as the gator would score 30 unanswered points, taking a 33-10 late into the third quarter. Florida’s defense was in Berlin’s face constantly and he looked rattled after an errant throw that was behind him and picked up by Keiwan Ratliff and returned 34 yards for a touchdown. Berlin was battling more than the tough gator defense as he was dehydrated and had severe leg cramps. It didn’t look good for the Canes.
Then as if a switch had been flipped, Berlin would march Miami 85 yards in 2 minutes 30 seconds to a touchdown on a pass to Kevin Beard. Following a 2 point conversion, Miami now cut the lead to 33-18. That drive awoke the packed Orange Bowl and Miami’s defense led by Jonathan Vilma, Taylor, Vince Wilfork, DJ Williams, Antrel Rolle and many others, stuffed the gator, giving the ball back to Berlin who would hit Kevin Beard in stride for a 62 yard pass, taking Miami to the 1 yard line. Frank Gore would then plunge in for the score and the Canes were within one touchdown of UF down only 33-25.
After another defensive stop, Berlin led The U to another touchdown, this time to Ryan Moore who’s excessive celebration penalty cost Miami a shot at a tie with a two point conversion forcing them to kick the extra point. With 11 minutes left in the final period, Miami was down 33-32 and the Hurricane faithful was electric! It was that energy that fueled the Canes defense, helping them stop the gator with just over 5 minutes to go. That was plenty of time for the battered Berlin who drove Miami 89 yards, capped by an 11 yard touchdown run by Gore. In what was an EPIC comeback, this win over the gator will go down as one of the greatest games in Hurricanes history.