(Monday, September 7th)
Final Score: Miami-Florida 38, (18) Florida State 34
Tallahassee, FL (Sports Network) - Jacory Harris threw for a career-high 386 yards, Graig Cooper had the go-ahead three-yard touchdown run with 1:53 remaining, and the Miami came up with a defensive stand at the two-yard line to take down 18th-ranked Florida State, 38-34, at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Harris completed 21-of-34 passes, threw for two scores and was picked off twice. Travis Benjamin came up with four catches for 128 yards and a touchdown. That included a huge 40-yard tiptoe grab to set up the go-ahead score.
Christian Ponder finished 24-of-41 through the air for 294 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Seminoles, but his final pass to Jarmon Fortson barely fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired.
"Another typical Florida State-Miami game," said Hurricanes coach Randy Shannon. "It's what you really look forward to when you play Florida State. For some reason the last couple of years it's come down to the last play or the last minute, which is good for the ACC."
Harris shook off a pass that was picked off and returned for FSU's go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and later led the Hurricanes (1-0, 1-0 ACC) on the winning 59-yard drive.
Facing a 3rd-and-1 at midfield, Cooper ran up the middle to move the chains. Two plays later, Harris found Benjamin on the left side of the field. Benjamin caught the ball as his left toe was elevating off the ground and then his right foot stepped out of bounds. Replays confirmed the catch.
Cooper then ran up the middle for the go-ahead score.
"Absolutely no pass rush," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden. "That kid had all day long to stand back there and play and ours did, too. That was probably the worst pass rush game in the history of college football, by them and us. We didn't come close. They didn't put the pressure on us."
The Seminoles (0-1, 0-1) then set up at the Miami 49 following the kickoff return. Ponder had the big play, running 30 yards on a QB draw on a 3rd-and-3 play, to the Miami 12. A pass interference penalty had FSU on the two with a fresh set of downs, but Ponder couldn't make the winning connection.
Ponder's lob pass to Fortson in the left corner of the end zone was knocked away by Brandon Harris. Ponder then threw high and out of the end zone on a ball over the middle. Then, with five seconds left, Ponder rolled right and threw to Fortson, but the diving sophomore wide receiver had the ball bounce off his chest and to the ground as time expired.
"That was our 2-point play that we practice all practice and Jarmon was wide open," said Ponder. "I take full responsibility, the throw was a bit low and that's my fault."
It was October 4 last year when the Seminoles beat the Hurricanes, 41-39, in Miami.
It seemed like freshman defensive back Greg Reid was everywhere for the Seminoles. He had three kick returns for 100 yards, came up with an interception and hit Harris' arm, which led to a go-ahead TD in the fourth quarter.
Markus White picked the ball out of the air and his 31-yard return gave FSU the lead. Ponder's pass to Richard Goodman for the two-point conversion made it 31-24 with 11:45 remaining.
The sophomore shook off the hit by Reid and immediately returned, leading Miami on a tying drive, finishing it with a 24-yard connection to Cooper midway through the period.
FSU freshman Dustin Hopkins then made a 45-yard field goal with 4:11 remaining, setting the stage for the dramatic conclusion.
In the game's opening series, Harris threw 39 yards to Benjamin on a blown coverage for a score, but Florida State tied the game the first time they had the ball, as Ponder's lob found Caz Piurowski for a 10-yard score.
Hopkins booted a 52-yard field goal with 2:50 left in the half to give FSU a 10-7 edge, but Miami answered with Javarris James scoring on a six-yard run in the final minute.
Ponder tried to put the Seminoles on top just before halftime, but his ill- advised pass into the end zone was picked off by Randy Phillips.
Ponder scored on a nine-yard QB draw early in the third, but a missed extra point try left FSU with a 16-14 edge.
Reid picked off Harris deep in Florida State territory later in the third, and a 21-yard TD connection from Ponder to Taiwan Easterling extended the FSU lead to 23-14 with just under five minutes left in the quarter.
Matt Bosher responded with an 18-yard field goal for the Hurricanes, who were denied the end zone after having a 1st-and-goal at the two.
Reid's 51-yard kickoff return had FSU in business again, but Marcus Robinson sacked Ponder, forcing a fumble. Josh Holmes pounced on the ball for Miami at the Hurricanes' 39 with under two minutes left in the third.
That led to Harris' one-yard sneak into the end zone for a 24-23 Miami edge.
The Hurricanes will next play September 17 at home against Georgia Tech...Florida State hosts Jacksonville State on Saturday...Miami is 57-26-1 in season-opening games...The last seven games in the Miami-Florida State rivalry have been decided by a total of 28 points...Miami holds a 31-23 series advantage over Florida State...Ty Jones had 14 carries for 59 yards for FSU...Cooper also had five kickoff returns for 177 yards.
09/08 02:55:10 ET