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Right Cross Knocks Out Florida State

College football: Third time is no charm for Bowden as missed field goal gives rejuvenated Miami a 27-24 victory over No. 1 team.


MIAMI — Poor Matt Munyon's kick never had a chance.

Not here, not now, not in Bobby Bowden's lifetime.

Think about this: The walk-on freshman Munyon had missed four field goals this season before he put foot to ball in Saturday's closing seconds.

Four misses, all wide left.

If this was the game to mark the official resumption of one of college football's grand rivalries--a return to the way things used to be--then Florida State would have to charge down the field against Miami in the frantic final seconds, and Munyon's last-second, 49-yard field goal attempt would have to do what it did.

Munyon's boot wasn't just wide right, it was Wide Right III, another historic miss that preserved No. 7 Miami's dramatic 27-24 victory over No. 1 Florida State before 80,905.

In the instant Munyon's kick sprayed to the right, Miami football was reborn after a half-decade of decay and five consecutive losses to Florida State, none more degrading than a 47-0 walloping in 1997.

"That's been in my mind ever since that game," Miami linebacker Dan Morgan said of that defeat.

Like apparitions, Miami players from the glory years, Michael Irvin and Bernie Kosar to name two, appeared in the stadium's closed end to spirit the revival.

"Just like the old days, baby!" Miami Athletic Director Paul Dees barked as Miami's mounted police fought to keep fans off the field.

It was Miami's day in the searing sun and Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden's worst nightmares revisited.

Bowden had not purged this demon, as had been thought, he had only held it at bay in the five years since 1995 NCAA scholarship sanctions sucked the life out of Miami football.

But on Saturday, in a game that produced a dozen memories and 1,013 total yards, the statisticians could resume Miami's iron-clad case against Bowden.

Miami's win marked the ninth time the Hurricanes have pinned Bowden with his first loss of the season.

Miami's win ended Florida's 17-game winning streak and 26-game mark in regular-season games.

Miami (4-1) has cost Florida State (5-1) three outright national titles and now we'll have to wait and see if Saturday turns out to be a fourth.

There would be plenty for Bowden to contemplate later. The dramatic last three minutes will replay in his head for days.

His team appeared doomed until the final minutes, when Florida State woke up and rallied for two late touchdowns to set up the game-ending, side-winding scenario.

Chris Weinke's two-yard scoring pass to Anquan Boldin with 3:15 left cut the Miami lead to 20-17.

Then, on Miami's next possession, the Hurricanes had all but iced the game on Ken Dorsey's third-down pass to Najeh Davenport, but Tay Cody jarred the ball loose from Davenport and Florida State's Brian Allen recovered the fumble at the Miami 48 with 2:14 left.

Four plays later, Weinke hit Atrews Bell on a 29-yard scoring strike to give Florida State a 24-20 lead with 1:37 left.

But that still left too much time for Miami, which raced right back down the field and reclaimed the lead on Dorsey's 13-yard scoring pass to Jeremy Shockey with 46 seconds left.

"Every single time he says he's open," Dorsey would say later of Shockey. "This time I listened to him."

But the game, like so many in the series, turned into an emotional and psychological drama involving Bowden and his kicker.

"Wide Right I" was born in 1991, in Tallahassee, when Gerry Thomas missed a 34-yard attempt to give Miami a 17-16 win. Florida State was 10-0 at the time. Thomas has not spoken publicly about the kick since.

"Wide Right II" came a year later, in the Orange Bowl, when Dan Mowrey's 39-yard miss handed Miami a 19-16 victory.

There was a time Bowden didn't believe in giving scholarships to kickers, but two bungled boots changed his tune. He went out and recruited Scott Bentley, who delivered the game-winner against Nebraska in the 1994 Orange Bowl, securing Bowden's first national title.

After Bentley, Bowden landed Sebastian Janikowski, who provided the Seminoles' goal-post security for the last three years.

But when Janikowski declared early for last year's NFL draft, Bowden was in trouble again, left to choose among a foot club of Chance Gwaltney, Brett Cimorelli and Munyon.

Bowden showed what little faith he had in Munyon in Saturday's first quarter. After Florida State recovered a Miami fumble on the opening kickoff, Bowden went for it on fourth down at the Miami 16, but the Seminoles failed. He also denied Munyon a chance later in the quarter, Florida State failing again on a fourth-down try at the Miami 13.

Before his final attempt, Munyon had pulled an 18-yard attempt to the left in the third quarter.

In the final minute, fate closed fast on Bowden.

Florida State took possession at its 22 and Weinke worked the ball down field.

His 12-yard pass to Marvin Minnis put the ball on the Miami 32. The clock stopped with 10 seconds left while the first-down chains were moved, but Florida State squandered five precious seconds before having to call its last timeout.

At that point, Bowden had no choice but to send out the field goal team.

"I knew the odds were against us," the coach said. "But it was the only chance we had."

Miami players stood on the sideline, some well-versed in Florida State's cursed history.

"The only thing on my mind was 'Wide Right I, Wide Right II, please let it be Wide Right III,' " Miami receiver Reggie Wayne said. "There was a lot of pressure on that young kid. I'm glad it wasn't Sebastian Janikowski."

Munyon struck the ball solidly.

"It just didn't hook enough," he later explained. "I planned for it to go outside, because I knew it naturally would come back. It just didn't come back enough."

For Bowden, against Miami, it never has.

Will it ever?

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