For every Miami enthusiast that saw Florida State take a three-point lead with 1:24 remaining, that all-too-familiar returned—another, “here we go again” moment.

The Hurricanes’ seven-game losing streak was built on crushing blows such as these. Big leads blown, or close late advantages surrendered, Miami couldn’t hang on—falling time and time again, only to watch the rest of the season slip away after another painful loss to the Seminoles.

Anyone supremely confident that Miami would respond is arguably full of it—but truth be told, something felt different this time around as Malik Rosier and the Hurricanes took the field, looking for a game-winner, or at worst a kick to force overtime.

The rest is history as Miami rolled 75 yards over nine plays in 78 seconds—Rosier hooking up with unexpected hero Darrell Langham for the 23-yard go-ahead score, with :06 remaining.

Equally as big—two Braxton Berrios completions with the Hurricanes facing 3rd-and-10; the latter going for 11 yards while the game’s announcers rambled about running right to set the ball up in the middle of the field for a game-tying kick. The Canes also got bursts of 10 and 14 yards out of second string running back Travis Homer—in for the injured Mark Walton; one of many casualties on both sides in this hard-hitting affair.

Also mixed in there; general adversity lesser Canes’ teams would’ve struggled to overcome. Rosier’s first down incompletion when the aggressive pass rush resulted in a batted-down ball, followed by an incompletion that put the heat on Miami’s offense to deliver; Berrios with the haul-in but pushed out of bounds mid-air.

WITH EVERYTHING ON THE LINE, THE CANES DELIVERED BIG

The mind-numbing war chant rained down courtesy of a Seminoles’ fan base starting to taste a season-turning victory. Instead, the Canes’ line held strong, Rosier stepped up in the pocket and found Berrios near the left hash mark for a diving 11-yard grab—Doak momentarily silenced as everyone quickly regrouped.

A hobbled Berrios trotted off the field, leaving the Canes to run sans-Walton—Homer finding a hole on the right side and not missing a beat. Clock stoppage to reset the chains before going right back to the ground to chip away; Homer turning six yards into 14 when breaking a tackle and lowering the shoulder to get those extra yards needed should it come down to a kick.

A deep ball to Lawrence Cager fell incomplete after the lanky receiver got tangled up with defender Tavarus McFadden—Rosier going right back to the well a play later when pressure came from the left, resulting in another incompletion.

Mark Richt—the calm, cool, collected veteran head coach wisely called a timeout to settle his team and figure out how the Canes would best-utilizing the game’s remaining :11 seconds.

In that moment, Michael Badgley was looking at a 51-yard field goal attempt should Miami’s third down attempt fall incomplete—meaning anything on top of that was gravy. Weighing out the risk versus reward, how much of a difference would a three-yard run by Homer have made in comparison to what happened next?

Rosier in the shotgun—having returned to the field with his team, raising both arms repeatedly with a make-some-noise gesture—got protection from his linen found an on-the-move Berrios, who turned a potential four-yard gain into an 11-yard first down, courtesy of a broken tackle.

The gamble paid off and the Canes remained on the move—followed by the indelible image of Richt on the sidelines, tapping his right index finger to his temple and repeating over and over to his quarterback and offense to “be smart”.

Smart the Canes were. Rosier dropped the pass perfectly towards a twisting Langham—in a spot where McFadden couldn’t reach it, leaving Miami in position to tie the game had it fallen incomplete.

Instead, pure pandemonium as the Canes went back ahead with six seconds remaining.

TOPPLING FLORIDA STATE IS JUST THE BEGINNING

Ending the streak and finally beating Florida State was the understandable headline, but something bigger happened last Saturday at in Tallahassee—Miami’s broken culture was officially repaired over the course of an afternoon.

Steps had been taken towards this shift at times last season and the Richt-era Canes shone in a comeback against Toledo, as well as a convincing road win at Duke—but until the Seminoles’ demon was exorcised, the metamorphosis would not be complete.

Past regimes in Coral Gables loved buzzwords and motivational phrases—oft talking about, “overcoming adversity”—yet stepping down instead of up in moments where that could be lived out. Wilting on the main stage had become synonymous with the Canes, while the raised four fingers tradition turned into a joke and formality with Miami losing late.

From the opening drive at Doak, it was obvious Florida State came to play. The Noles were focused on the Canes, not a 1-2 start and dropping out of the rankings. Miami’s defense generally held tough, though gave up some plays. with 4:20 left in the first quarter, the Noles struck first with a 27-yard field goal from Ricky Aguayo.

The Canes offense; another story—punting seven times in the first half and shutout. Walton had 14 yards after two quarters, while Rosier was obviously affected by the speed of the game—a first-year starter that had never seen a defense the likes of Florida State.

An interception by Michael Jackson with 1:04 in the first half thwarted an second Seminoles’ scoring attempt and gave the Canes some momentum heading into the locker room, despite being down, 3-0.

With the third half underway, a switch flipped for the Canes—courtesy of a coaching staff that calmed nerves, motivated and put their kids in position to success.

Rosier found Berrios for 29 yards and Ahmmon Richards for 32, facing a 3rd-and-20. The Canes worked their way to the Noles’ 13-yard line; amassing 62 yards over 11 plays before settling for a 31-yard field goal—but a statement was made and Miami had some life on the road.

A possession later, Dee Delaney picked off the inexperienced James Blackman and the Canes looked poised to take control before an errant Rosier pass was nabbed by Stanford Samuels in the end zone for no gain. Miami left points on the field with the setback, but didn’t panic—the defense forcing a punt three plays later.

LEARNING EXPERIENCES EQUAL STEPS TOWARDS GREATNESS

Moments like those are what deem the Canes “good” right now, while aspiring to be “great”—which in all reality is where this program should be four games into Richt’s second season, after a decade’s worth of piss-poor coaching and a lack of leadership at “The U”.

Drive-by-drive, Miami works to get better. Some will play out magically—like Rosier-to-Langham. Others defeating, like Rosier-to-Samuels in a potential rise-up moment. It’s going to be one of those seasons, so buckle in for the bumpy ride—though it’s safe to expect much more good than bad as the Canes keep working their way back to the top.

Where the past few seasons have seen Miami unravel after a heartbreaking loss to Florida State, this year’s challenge becomes guarding against the letdown. Emotions were firing last weekend against an arch-rival and any way you slice or dice it, there’s going to be a comedown from a situation like that—and a safe bet Hurricanes coaches are hammering that all week while preparing for Georgia Tech and that quirky triple option.

Assignment football and discipline are on red alert with the Yellow Jackets coming to HardRock Stadium on Saturday—and truth be told, it’s a bigger showdown that the one that just took place.

Georgia Tech rolls in 3-1 on the season and undefeated in Atlantic Coast Conference play, having rolled North Carolina last week, 33-7 and Pittsburgh the week prior, 35-17. The Yellow Jackets are a true contender for a Coastal Division title and head-to-head could be a factor by season’s end.

Miami does get a divisional break this year—having won it’s annual showdown against Florida State and taking on Syracuse from the Atlantic next week—while both Georgia Tech (like Virginia Tech before them) has to tussle with Clemson.

Still, the answer for Miami is to keep the momentum train rolling and clearing weekly milestones en route to becoming a true player again. Keep checking off those boxes.

Second half rally to topple Toledo. Consistent, smart football at Duke for the season’s first road trip. Endure the elements and setbacks that come from a hard-fought game at Florida State—as well as the casualties that result from a showdown like that; in this case, losing Walton for the season to a broken ankle.

Next challenge; avoid the letdown, get up for the Yellow Jackets, contain that offense and keep the offense rolling like it’s the fourth quarter against the Seminoles.

Beating Florida State means nothing if laying an egg against Georgia Tech. In Richt’s words; be smart this week. Use your heads. Stay focused and keep building towards greatness.

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