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SOTU Awards: Play of the Year

Mike Harley’s game-winning grab from D’Eriq King in Raleigh took home top billing as the play of the year.

Miami v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

D’Eriq King spun around in the defender’s grasp, desperate to break free. Unable to do so, he pitched the ball away to no one. After discussion, the flag came out. Intentional grounding on number 1 of Miami. 2nd and 18 coming up from the Miami 8. Only 3:45 left in the game. According to ESPN, NC State held an 89.7% chance of winning at that point.

And who could really challenge that projection? It simply had not been Miami’s day.

The Friday night game in Raleigh had all the makings of a Miami nationally-televised stinker. Well, at least it started that way. NC State blazed its way down the field in its first two drives on the steady arm of QB Bailey Hockman and scored on 4 of its first 5 drives of the game. Miami’s offense was nearly equal, but the Canes still trailed 24-21 at the half.

Miami’s defense stiffened by late in the third quarter, but its offense couldn’t do enough to grab the lead, even getting shafted by the officials on an unnecessary goal line review that wiped out a game-tying touchdown, resulting in a field goal that kept the Canes trailing.

At 41-37, and with under 5 minutes to go, the defense sacked Hockman on 3rd and 9, forcing a punt that pinned Miami deep. After the aforementioned intentional grounding, Miami faced long odds to drive down and steal the win. But they did, and in short order.

On 2nd and 18, King found Harley on a deep post for 35 yards. Two plays later, this happened....

(Even sweeter was sticking it to the kicker who did the DX you-know-what motion after nailing a field goal at the start of the 4th quarter.)

Harley lined up in the slot and ran a simple slant. The defender was playing about 10 yards off of him, so he was able to make his move and catch the ball before the defender was able to get a hand on him. The defender clumsily lunged for his legs, and Harley fought through the stumble, regained his balance, and streaked for the winning points in one of Miami’s most exciting games of the season.

On the following drive, the suddenly surging Canes defense intercepted Hockman, and the offense was able to run out the clock on a 44-41 win. But it was Miami’s emerging WR1 Mike Harley that helped the Canes steal the win in Raleigh and keep hopes alive for a 10-win season or better (which unfortunately failed late in the year, but still).

And they also took home State of the U’s award for play of the year.