There are rare occasions as a sports fan, that a single players performance makes you remember certain things, like where you were that night, where you watched the game, stat-line, even what you did that day prior to the game.
For instance, LeBron James against the Celtics, 2012 Eastern Conference Finals Game 6. Brett Favre when he put on a show against the Raiders on Monday Night Football shortly after his father passed away. Reggie Miller’s eight points in nine seconds against the Knicks. You get the point.
Ok those performances are at the grandest stages in sports. Now, I want to bring it back just a bit, and relate to us Miami Hurricanes fans. There’s been incredible individual showcases in UM history, like Edgerrin James against UCLA or Willis McGahee six touchdowns versus Virginia Tech.
Just this past weekend, for the first time in years, I rewatched game between Miami and Florida State, Labor Day, 2009, season opener. We all know this as the “Jacory Harris Game.” You probably didn’t call it that, I just made it up.
On this night in Tallahassee, Harris became a Hurricane legend and inserted himself into Miami lore, and that game and his performance is still talked about today. 386 yards and two touchdowns through the air, leading the Canes to a thrilling 38-34 victory at Doak Campbell Stadium.
So, let’s rewind a bit and take a look back at that memorable evening. September 9th, 2009, opening weekend of the college football season. Canes vs Noles. FSU is ranked 18th, Miami not at all.
After a false start to open the game, Harris and Miami’s first offensive play was a simple screen to Javarris James. Nothing fancy, but it does go for 20-yards.
Four plays later on that drive and following a fourth-down conversion, Harris took a deep shot to Travis Benjamin, who burned the FSU coverage, hauling in a 39-yard touchdown. The unranked Canes and their sophomore quarterback obviously came to Tally to play.
In the second quarter and tied 7-7, Harris and the UM offense stayed aggressive. Although this play below wasn’t part of a scoring drive, you have to absolutely love Jacory’s willingness to go deep on first-down, something he did often this game, as he found Leonard Hankerson for a 40-yard gain.
Let’s fast forward now to the third quarter. On Miami’s previous drive, Harris threw an interception which FSU then scored fairly quickly afterwards having great field possession. Now down 23-14 and the Noles crowd going bezerk, Jacory led a crucial five-play drive, resulting in a field goal. The first play of that FG drive coming after a great 62-yard kickoff-return from Graig Cooper, then Jacory hit tight-end Dedrick Epps across his body on a well designed call for 27 more yards. 23-17 Noles.
After an FSU fumble three minutes later, Jacory went right to the air, throwing again on first-down, hitting Benjamin for 29-yards into FSU territory. Harris capped off the drive, sneaking into the end zone from a yard out. With nearly 14 minutes still to play, these two rivals prepared for an unforgettable fourth quarter.
Minutes later however, it seemed that the world was crumbling to its demise. Up 24-23, Harris was blasted by a blitz, and his pass lofted into the air and straight into the hands of FSU defender Markus White, who strolled into the end zone. At that moment, I was certain, absolutely positive that the game was over and the Seminoles were going to win.
I stormed into my room in fury, and if it wasn’t for my father cheering buoyantly about two minutes later, who knows if I would have come out to watch the rest.
Jacory and the offense took the field after the pick-six, and immediately were faced with a 3rd-and-15. Though he was taking deep shots all night long, Harris surprisingly went short to Hankerson, and his receiver did the rest and picked up the first down.
Later in the drive, Jacory converted not one but two more third-downs. On the second third-down of the drive, UM faced third-and-six. Showing off his incredible movement in the pocket, Harris was able to break-away from a sack, buy himself even more time to find a now open Benjamin down the middle for 20-yards.
Right after their third third-down conversion of the drive, Harris found his tailback Cooper in the end zone for a touchdown. As wide open as he was, I'm still confused as to why Cooper felt the need to dive for the catch. Anyway, Miami tied it up at 31.
After an FSU field goal made it 34-31, Jacory found his way to the field alongside his troops for their final drive, taking over at their own 41-yard line with 3:53 to go. After a seven-yard completion to James, a five-yard pass to Hankerson and two handoffs mixed in there, Harris lined up under center at the Noles 45-yard line. What happened next, is the play I'll remember for the rest of my life, no matter where I go I'll always remember this play. Jacory faked it to Cooper, stepped up, and delivered, in my opinion the greatest pass in UM football history, a perfect 40-yard dime to Benjamin, hitting him right in stride before going out of bounds at the FSU three-yard line. The next play, Cooper took a handoff from Harris into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. Canes lead by four, 38-34.
I will forever say this is the best throw in UM history pic.twitter.com/MxMzTiNfZz— Bring Issiah Walker to Miami (@hurricanesmarsh) June 18, 2019
Thanks to a miraculous goal-line stand by the Miami defense, stopping the Noles on the final play of the game, the Hurricanes somehow, someway, managed to escape Tallahassee with a 38-34 win.
Now Harris’ 386 yards weren’t the most in program history, it’s not even top-five most passing yards in a game. But those throws, those two final drives, and the fact that it was at FSU to beat the Seminoles, how could it not be legendary?