As a student at The U from 2008-2012, I was not present for any of the glorious runs that made Miami the inventor of swag. In those 4 years, the team was coached by Randy Shannon and Al Golden, went 0-3 in bowl games and had a total record of 29-22. Despite 4 years of general mediocrity, there were still moments that felt like The U was still a top-tier program capable of winning big games. One of those moments was Thursday, September 17th, 2009, when the 20th-ranked Canes hosted the 14th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in a nationally-televised primetime matchup. GT’s triple option offense was running as well as it ever had, led by a Heisman-contender in tailback Jonathan Dwyer and a future NFL-star receiver in Demaryius Thomas. The Canes were riding the momentum of a Labor Day victory over FSU (our only win against the Noles in my 4 years) and Jacory Harris was starting to build a Heisman candidacy of his own. As I headed to the stadium that evening, this felt like a game that would end up being a let down for Canes fans. Luckily, the Canes seized the opportunity.
The entire game was all Miami. The defense showed up in a big way, holding the Yellow Jackets to only 95 yards on 39 carries. Jacory completed 20 of 25 passes for 270 yards and 3 touchdowns, Graig Cooper and Javarris James combined for 165 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries, and Jimmy Graham caught his first touchdown. This was a classic case of keeping the pedal to the metal despite feeling like the game was in hand, which is why what should have been an insignificant play ended up being the lasting moment from this game:
With 36 seconds left in the first half, the Canes were already up 17-3. The defense forced a punt from GT’s own 30 yard line, so the conventional thought would be to secure the ball and go into the half with their margin intact. When Travis Benjamin fielded the punt at his own 24 yard line, he put in the extra effort to make something out of nothing, making 2 cuts before trying to hit a seam. What appeared to be a solid 10-yard return, however, turned into a 15-yard return when Jordan Futch brought a full head of steam into a huge (CLEAN) crackback block. The crowd erupted, and any thought of a comeback for the Yellow Jackets was eliminated right at that moment. In a game full of offense for the Canes, a 15-yard punt return was the play being featured on Sportcenter’s top 10 plays, as well as being featured in highlight tapes of the program for years to come. You can see the rest of the games’ highlights in the video below.