1991 Florida State vs. Miami
Wide Right I
By Dave Bagchi
NationalChamps.net Writer


November 16, 1991
#2 Miami 17 ... #1 Florida State 16

Wide Right I

"If you have to use the restroom, have a little can beside you because you're not gonna wanna miss a minute of this."

So were the fitting words told by Florida State's All-American defensive back, Terrell Buckley just prior to the 1991 clash between Miami and Florida State. In a war simply known as, "Game of the Century II", Bobby Bowden's top-ranked (10-0) Seminoles braced for a showdown with Coach Dennis Erickson's second-ranked (8-0) Hurricanes. Both teams had been dominant all season posting over twenty-five point average scoring margins each. The Canes had the nation's top-ranked scoring defense while the Seminoles had the third-highest scoring offense. FSU's quarterback Casey Weldon was undefeated as a starter, while Miami's defense remarkably had not allowed a first half touchdown so far that season. Florida State was the favorite, having won over the role after a fifty-one-point outburst in Ann Arbor against the fourth ranked Michigan Wolverines. Miami entered the game having won seven consecutive battles against top-ranked opponents. The game featured All-Americans on both sides of the ball, from Miami's quarterback Gino Torretta, wideout Lamar Thomas, return specialist Kevin Williams, offensive tackle Leon Searcy, defensive end Rusty Medearis, linebackers Darin Smith, Jessie Armstead and Michael Barrow, safety Darryl Williams, cornerback Ryan McNeil to Florida State's Weldon, running backs Amp Lee and Edgar Bennett, defensive linemen Sterling Palmer and Carl Simpson, linebackers Marvin Jones and Kirk Carruthers, Buckley and safety Leon Fowler. Clearly, this game was to be a war…

A record crowd, 64,288 filled Doak Campbell Stadium on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Miami received the ball and promptly marched the opening drive right down the field against the Seminole defense. The Canes went seventy-four yards aided by a fourteen-yard pass from Torretta to fullback Stephen McGuire, a thirty-yard burst by McGuire, a key third down run by Torretta to get a Miami first and goal and two crucial penalties against the Seminoles. McGuire finally bulled it in the endzone from two yards out to give Miami an early lead. In the game's opening ten minutes, Florida State proved the team with more butterflies by committing two personal fouls and two holding calls. Finally, the Seminoles settled down. A beautiful fifty-one-yard strike from Weldon to Amp Lee set Florida State with a first-and-goal at Miami's one-yard line. It was the longest play against Miami all season, but the Canes held strong and FSU settled for a Gerry Thomas 25-yard field goal to get on the board. Both teams went back and forth, missing opportunities. Miami receivers dropped three nicely thrown bombs from Torretta, while FSU was done in by their own mistakes. After the first quarter, Miami led 7-3.

Early in the second, FSU's defense came up big, recovering a McGuire fumble at the Cane's 24-yard line. After a Weldon dart to Edgar Bennett got the Noles down to the five, the Miami defense stiffened again. Finally, on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, Seminole backup fullback Paul Moore plunged into the end zone to give FSU their first lead of the game. It was the first touchdown Miami's defense allowed in the opening half of a game all season.

Over the next ten minutes, turnovers plagued both teams. Miami drove twice inside the Florida State 30, but were intercepted on both occasions. FSU's Terrell Buckley and Marvin Jones making the big plays. Miami's Charles Pharms answered the call as he picked off a Weldon throw to give Miami the ball back. Weldon got pressure on the play from All-American Rusty Medearis who ended the game with two of Miami's five sacks. The Hurricanes drove to the FSU nine-yard line before penalties pushed them back and Carlos Herta had his 41-yard FGA blocked by Seminole Sterling Palmer. At the half, FSU led Miami 10-7.

The second half began with Weldon getting the wind knocked out of him by Miami linebacker Corwin Francis. Ever resilient, Weldon returned to march the Seminoles fifty-eight yards in thirteen plays. Three-straight Weldon completions (two to freshman wideout Kez McCorvey) took the Noles down to the Miami nine-yard line. The Miami defense stiffened again, however, and FSU settled for a 31-yard field goal by Gerry Thomas to make the score 13-7.

Later in the quarter, FSU embarked on an eleven play, ninety-yard drive that culminated early in the fourth quarter with another Thomas field goal to make a 16-7 Nole lead. In the third quarter, the Seminoles controlled yardage (159-38) and possession time (10:04-4:56), but only outscored Miami 3-0. As Miami got the ball back trailing by nine, the Hurricanes could only look to themselves for their difficulties on offense. On their past four possessions, Torretta had driven Miami inside the FSU 35-yard line resulting in two interceptions, one punt and a blocked field goal. It was do-or-die time for Miami.

Highlighted by a 27-yard run by McGuire, the Canes drove forty-four yards in ten plays. After a clutch 45-yard field goal by kicker Carlos Huerta, Miami cut their deficit to six with just over nine minutes remaining. Miami forced a Seminole punt and got the ball back with seven minutes remaining. On a beautiful 22-yard completion from Torretta to an outstretched Coleman Bell on second-and-sixteen, Miami moved to the FSU 41-yard line. After some tough runs by McGuire, who ended with 142 rushing and 27 receiving, Miami drove inside FSU's twenty. Facing a crucial fourth-and-six, Torretta found Horace Copeland (his only catch of the day) for a Miami first-and-goal at the three-yard line. Three plays later, backup fullback Larry Jones dove in from a yard out to give Miami the lead 17-16 with only 3:01 showing on the clock. In the second half, Miami's offense had three possessions covering thirty-one plays and over 150 yards.

It was now Weldon's time to shine. Florida State stormed down the field to the Miami 46-yard line. Facing a crucial fourth down, Edgar Bennett pushed forward for the FSU first. After a pass interference call on Miami's Ryan McNeil in the FSU end zone, the Seminoles moved down to the Miami seventeen-yard line. Facing a third and nine with 0:29 remaining and Casey Weldon having lost his shoe, Bobby Bowden elected to try the winning field goal. On came Thomas who was a perfect three-for-three on the game.

"The snap is back, the ball is down, here we go…. It is … Wide to the right!!!!! Wide to the Right!!!!"

"Miami players are all over the field," said Keith Jackson. " They're going to get penalized for it, but 'So what?' I'm sure is their attitude. "

It was a game for the ages. The offenses got the bells and whistles before the game, but the defenses controlled the action for sixty minutes. Marvin Jones said it best before the game, "It's just total pain and disregard for one's own personal safety."

Miami went on to finish 12-0 after pasting Nebraska, 22-0 in the Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes split the national championship, Miami's fourth in nine years, with the undefeated Washington Huskies. Florida State ended 11-2, with a loss to interstate rival Florida, 14-9. But most people agree that this game between Miami and FSU was the national championship in 1991 and that the Seminoles were never quite the same team after the disappointment of this game's wide right ending.