Wide Left I - A New Tradition Begins

Xavier Beitia was wide left on a 43-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game, as top-ranked Miami-Florida rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit and posted a 28-27 win over No. 9 Florida State. It was a familiar ending for Florida State (5-2) in the series, as the Seminoles missed a potential tying or winning field goal for the fourth time in the last 12 years (1991, '92, 2000). The previous three misses were wide right.

"I simply can't believe we lost the game like that again," said Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden. "I thought we had it. I went out to shake his (Beitia's) hand. I thought he hit it. I've had that picture so many times before in my career. I can't stand it."

Miami (6-0) extended the nation's longest winning streak to 28 games and the Hurricanes have won 20 in a row at the Orange Bowl. Ken Dorsey threw for a pair of touchdowns and Jason Geathers scored on an 11-yard run with 5:17 remaining to put the 'Canes ahead for good.

Dorsey completed 20-of-45 passes for 362 yards, was intercepted twice and also lost a fumble. Willis McGahee rushed for 95 yards and a TD on 26 carries for the Hurricanes, who won despite being penalized 14 times for a total of 109 yards.

Chris Rix connected on just 8-of-19 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown for Florida State. The Seminoles also got 189 yards and a touchdown on the ground from Greg Jones, who carried the ball 31 times.

"One play away and we had this game," said Rix. "He (Beitia) makes that kick every time. Any given Sunday, as Al Pacino says, it's a game of inches. That's how we lost, by inches."

The Hurricanes have won three straight in the series. They have also won all six games decided by three points or less since 1983. Two years ago, Matt Munyon failed on his game-tying field goal attempt as time expired in a 27-24 contest. Dan Mowry missed his attempt in 1992 and Gerry Thomas couldn't connect in 1991 for FSU.

Jones scored on an 11-yard run with 11:44 remaining in the final quarter to increase the Florida State lead to 27-14. The Seminoles were helped out by a short field following a 25-yard punt by Freddie Capshaw.

The Hurricanes got within 27-21 when Kevin Beard caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Dorsey with 8:10 left. Dorsey connected with Andre Johnson on a big 37-yard pass to get the ball to the FSU 33 and the two hooked up again on a 19-yard connection to advance the ball to the three-yard line.

Miami then forced an FSU punt and the Hurricanes needed just two plays on the ensuing drive to go ahead. McGahee turned a screen pass into a 68-yard play down the right sideline and then Geathers bulled his way up the middle into the end zone.

The Seminoles punted on their next possession, but held on defense and forced Miami to kick the ball back to Florida State with Capshaw shanking a three- yarder. The Seminoles then drove from their own 46 into field goal range, including a wobbly pass from Rix to Talman Gardner on a 3rd-and-4 play.

Jones was stopped up the middle for no gain and Rix was barely able to spike the ball with one second left, but Beitia was wide left and fittingly, Miami's home field became a sea of orange as the Hurricanes celebrated the heart- throbbing win.

The Hurricanes went ahead 7-0 midway through the first quarter on a four-yard TD run by McGahee. That capped a 13-play, 89-yard drive during which Miami went 3-for-3 on third downs.

The Seminoles were forced to punt on their first four possessions, but kept the game close by capitalizing on a couple of turnovers. Michael Boulware intercepted a pass at the FSU seven-yard line less than two minutes into the second quarter and the Seminoles took advantage of a fumble by Dorsey, as Allen Augustin recovered at the Florida State 16-yard line with 11:38 remaining until halftime.

Miami was penalized three times for 25 yards on the ensuing drive and Nick Maddox capped the march with a 30-yard scoring run to the left side to even the score with 9:29 remaining in the second quarter.

Florida State started its next drive in Miami territory and Beitia kicked a 45-yard field goal to make it 10-7 with 6:12 left in the half.

Gardner caught a 10-yard TD pass from Rix to boost FSU's lead to 17-7 less than four minutes later. The Seminoles got the ball at midfield following a 29-yard punt by Capshaw and Rix found Gardner over the middle in the back of the end zone and the senior barely came down in bounds with the ball with 2:34 remaining in the period.

Dorsey then led the Hurricanes on a 80-yard drive and Miami got within three points on Kellen Winslow's five-yard TD reception over the middle with 26 seconds left in the half.

It became 20-14 with 3:25 left in the third quarter on Beitia's 42-yard field goal. The Seminoles moved the ball to the Miami 24 after starting the drive at their own three-yard line.

Game Notes

The game drew an Orange Bowl record of 81,927...Miami leads the all-time series, 26-20....Jones' rushing total tied for 10th best in Florida State history...Miami's last home loss came against Penn State, which handed the Hurricanes a 27-23 defeat on September 18, 1999...Florida State defensive end Eric Moore missed the game because he was hospitalized with stomach pains Saturday morning...The Seminoles fell to 1-4 all-time against No. 1 teams.

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