For those who live under a rock—or were too deep in Fireball and cos-play on October 31st—the Canes and Blue Devils met up one week after Al Golden had been fired by Miami.
Interim head coach Larry Scott was at the helm and adding to the somber mood; junior cornerback Artie Burns lost his mother Dana Smith to a heart attack in between the Clemson loss and Duke upset.
The Canes took a halftime lead, capitalized on mistakes and struggled to close. A few controversial pass interference calls kept the Blue Devils’ final drive alive. What looked like a Miami goal line stand—which would’ve resulted in time running out—was called a Duke touchdown.
Six seconds remained. The Blue Devils kicked off. The rest is Canes’ history.
Eight laterals. Mark Walton and the knee controversy, as well as the non-call on a block in the back by Sheldrick Redwine. The monster hit from David Njoku as well as Walton going non-stop, picking up a late block that helped spring Corn Elder to the end zone and into UM’s sports archives.
The ACC suspended the officiating crew—as much for the 23 penalties it called on Miami and the goal line touchdown call—than the game’s final play.
We’ve included the video below—the final 13 minutes of the game, opposed to the chopped up highlight-reel versions that exist. Such a treat to watch in real time again—from that moment before kickoff after Miami had just lost the lead, to the return itself, the lengthy reviews by officials and finally the moment of truth and raw emotion exhibited by the road team.
Two months later, the chills are still return.
Some tried to shoot holes in the Canes’ victory, playing the opponent card and discussing how the mighty have fallen if celebrating a football win over a basketball school like Duke.
That logic is flawed, two-fold. Fact is the Blue Devils have learned a thing or two about football, while the Canes have become a basketball power, as well. Neither program deserves to have their success or accomplishment diminished because another one of their athletic program is top-dog at said university.
Furthermore, it was a hell of an ending—and if folks shook off their Canes-fueled hatred and uninformed opinion on what Blue Devils’ football has become—they’d appreciate this play in the same manner the unbiased AP did.
Miami’s comeback at Duke; it’s the reason sports movies resonate—courtesy of those miracle-type finishes that everyone dreams of. Kids playing football in the backyard or basketball in the driveway; manufacturing game-winning moments in walk-off fashion.
It’s the reason there were six “Rocky” movies (not counting “Creed”) and why “Hail Flutie” highlights are aired every Thanksgiving weekend 31 years after the fact.
Defying odds. Pulling off miracles. Thrill of victory and agony of defeat playing out in the most authentic fashion. It’s the ultimate reason folks tune in; the one in a million payoff.
For the Miami Hurricanes over that eight-day span; the play itself was one of many life moments—and it reality, the only way that game could’ve ended after what “The U” had just been through.
Good call, AP. Haters, continue to choke on it.