Instant Classic : Miami 31, Boston College 28

Miami Hurricanes Boston College Eagles 1999

At the time it seemed to be a throwaway game but looking back over a decade later, it showed the heart and attitude of a team that eventually became great.

When the Hurricanes trekked to Chestnut Hill in late October during the 1999 season, it was on the heels of a three-game losing streak. Miami opened the season with a 23-12 win over Ohio State in the Kickoff Classic, but faced heartbreak two weeks later when a comeback against No. 2 Penn State fell short.

The Canes took a late lead, got a bogus fourth-down spot and a play later gave up an 80-yard touchdown to the Nittany Lions, falling, 27-23.

The hangover hung on another week when Miami blew a big lead and fell to East Carolina. Two weeks after that, hanging tough with top-ranked Florida State worked for a half, but the Canes were outscored 10-0 in the second half and lost, 31-21 to the eventual national champs.

Miami was better than its 2-3 record, but still found itself in a 28-0 hole in the third quarter against Boston College – but suddenly came alive. Touchdown by touchdown. Possession by possession.

The Canes never quit and even when down 28-14 early in the fourth quarter, running back James Jackson was on the bench reminding teammates that this one wasn’t over.

Quarterback Kenny Kelly responded from a slow start and with a hurry-up offense, put some points on the board quickly.

The Canes forced a late fumble, where Jackson ran it in a play later and the comeback proved an exercise in tenacity for a young team. Kicker Andy Crosland nailed the game winner in the waning moments and the Canes outscored the Eagles, 31-0 for the 31-28 victory – on the heels of Butch Davis going for it on 4th and 17 and Kelly hitting wideout Reggie Wayne for the much-needed first down, setting up the game winner.

Miami finished the 1999 season with a 9-4 record. Outside of East Carolina, losses were to respectable teams – No. 2 Penn State, No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Virginia Tech, who wound up losing the the Seminoles on the national title game.

The Canes also won out, thumping Rutgers, Syracuse and Temple with true freshman Ken Dorsey under center. Dorsey and Kelly split duties in the Gator Bowl win over Georgia Tech, setting the stage for sophomore Dorsey to take over in 2000 when Kelly opted for professional baseball.

The grit showed this rebuilding season helped Miami achieve 11-1 in 2000, an undefeated campaign – and national title – in 2000 and a 12-1 run in 2002, falling in the championship game and ending a 34-game win-streak.

While Miami truly became great in 2000, there was definitely some greatness on October 23rd, 1999 when the Canes staged the ultimate comeback against the Eagles.



11 thoughts on “Instant Classic : Miami 31, Boston College 28

  1. God, I miss those days, Cane football 1999 through 2004. Almost always in contention, winning bowl games. I would love to see a return to glory.

    1. DJ – Perception is everything, though. As fans there was a lot of frustration in 1999. Based on the last few years, we’d all love to see another promising year like 1999, but at the time people were upset at 9-4.

      Fans were frustrated with Kenny Kelly and the Penn State loss, while the East Carolina loss was all but unforgivable. 21-21 at the half against Florida State, but lost of frustration at getting shut out in the second half. Frustration in the beatdown at Virginia Tech, too.

      You also mentioned 2003, which was an 11-2 run that fans weren’t happy with as they wanted a title (a year after the Fiasco Bowl and two embarrassing losses – 31-7 at Virginia Tech and 10-6 to Tennessee) and the 9-3 campaign in 2004 had everyone believing the sky was falling.

      Hopefully as the program is rebuilt proper we all have a better appreciation for things next time around. We’d all kill for 1999, 2003 or 2004 right now.

      1. Being a student at that time and at that Penn State game, I have to say, that that game was lost said more about the frustration of over achieving expectation than anything else. Coming off a series of sanctions and some terrible seasons with a baseball/football QB who looked incredibly athletic and mobile but didn’t necessarily warrant confidence with his throws, this was a season we saw as one to take the step back to the stage of relevance from being pushed into the darkness of a lost seasons via the NCAA. I think we wanted so bad to be better than anyone gave us credit for, but were realistic to think we should temper expectations (which at the U was also a seat in the national discussion). However, what hurt so bad about Penn State was, you saw the team come right up to the line of greatness…like a tease, then lose on an over aggression defensive play that left a wide out two steps past our defense. It was like giving a kid a balloon and popping it right when you hand it to him as far as our fan experience. Especially because it was the beginning of the season. It was the theme for the whole season. Stepping right up the line of potential and then never crossing it. Frustrating doesn’t even describe it. Looking back, its not unlike the last few years. You see the potential..but it never materializes when needed. In that regards, I hope the years ahead grows the next ’01 type team that came from that ’99 frustration..and with Golden developing their minds and bodies and passions, I don’t see why not.

        1. The 1999 team lacked that superstar quarterback. With that, Miami could’ve easily been 11-2, or even 12-1. Penn State, Florida State and East Carolina were all very winnable games, whereas Virginia Tech was a buzzsaw that night in Blacksburg.

          Line was still jelling, but ground game not there. Clinton Portis was too young, James Jackson was good, but not great, and Najeh Davenport blew out his knee early and was missed.

          Defense had some guys that were solid and others still a year away. You could see where this team was on its way to being great — and it was a year later. It was just missing a few key ingredients in 1999.

          Honestly, Kelly was heaving up ducks against Penn State and Santana Moss was saving his ass non-stop. Saw the same thing against Ohio State weeks earlier. With a sophomore era Ken Dorsey under center in 1999, that team would’ve been stellar. Hell, even with Scott Covington being around one more year, the ’99 Canes could’ve kicked some serious ass.

  2. I am sooo ready for this season to start! I see greatness being re-born with this Coach and class!!!

  3. I hope Golden is smart enough to show the Canes the Doug Flutie Hail Mary pass game and the one the Canes almost lost in the last minute but for a fumble into the lap of a Cane and the run back.

    The reason I say this is BC is always tough against the Canes. And BC has been winning against Notre Dame the last few years.

    1. Boston College is generally tough against Miami in Chestnut Hill, but generally speaking the Canes wax them in South Florida. 1991, 1997, 1999 and 2001 were all tough road games up there. To date, Boston College has beaten Miami twice since ‘Hail Flutie’ — 2007 in Randy’s first year, up there, and 2011 in Al’s first year, down here. Last year’s win by BC was their first in Miami SINCE Hail Flutie.

      1. BC plays tough against the Canes, just like all the ACC teams.
        Miami has a target on their jerseys. To many teams beating the Canes is the same as winning a bowl game.
        The Canes have to win every game, every play, and not leave any chance for the refs to throw the game like at Notre Dame.

  4. Hope the Canes are prepared. Those big white guys at BC and playing at home are going to give the Canes all the fight they want.

    And it will not get any easier at Kansas State with their coach they brought out of retirement. He is a great coach.

    Canes have to play every play, one at a time, and keep their noses to the grindstone and do their job. It is not going to be easy to return to the glory years of Cane football. Big uphill climb. I liked the one Cane player who said after their one loss season, they buckled down and knew they had to win every game the next year, and did so. Now, that is focus and determination. Too many teams find it easy to celebrate a TD or a win instead of staying focused on the game or the whole, long season.

    1. Boston College will come to play and best thing Miami has going for it, as a program, was losing to these guys in the finale last year. Falling to a then 3-8 team on senior day and in front of a home crowd – and then getting the chance to make things right when taking the field for the first game of 2012? Get it done.

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