Miami gets another chance against No. 21 Kansas St
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP)
The pass interference penalty in the closing minutes is what gave Miami hope.
It was called on Kansas State defensive back Nigel Malone, and gave the Hurricanes the ball with first-and-goal at the 2-yard line. They were trailing 28-24 before a home crowd in Coral Gables and, so it seemed, poised to punch in the go-ahead touchdown early last season.
A first-down pass fell incomplete, and two straight runs went nowhere.
Now facing fourth down with 57 seconds left, Jacory Harris took the snap and rolled to his left, looking for a place to throw. With everyone covered, the Miami quarterback sprinted for the pylon, stretching the ball out just as he was swarmed under by the pursuing Wildcats.
The officials ruled it a touchdown. Replays proved otherwise and the Hurricanes lost a heartbreaker.
''It stuck with us all year, what can you say?'' recalled Hurricanes coach Al Golden, whose team gets its chance at retribution when it visits No. 21 Kansas State on Saturday.
''I think we finished the year converting 14 of 15 goal-to-go situations,'' Golden said. ''That was the one. Give them a lot of credit - they fought until the end. Their guys stepped up and made plays on the 2-yard line there in succession, and they earned the right to win that game by the way they played. We didn't execute and they did - bottom line.''
Two teams equally matched on that September Saturday went in different directions.
Kansas State kept slipping past opponents with more late-game heroics, winning 10 games and going to the Cotton Bowl. Miami wound up finishing 6-6 in Golden's first year as coach.
''It's going to take 11 guys to play well in that environment, in that situation, and we had 11 guys that did exactly that,'' K-State coach Bill Snyder said. ''Our guys made really some very mature adjustments during those four snaps down there, and particularly on the last play.''
There are new faces on both sides of the ball - Harris was a senior on last year's team - but enough still around who remember the way last season's meeting played out.
One of them is Arthur Brown, the Wildcats' senior linebacker.
He was one of the nation's most highly prized recruits coming out of high school in Wichita, Kan. The Wildcats wanted him at the time, but Brown felt a hankering to get out of Kansas, so he committed to the Hurricanes and former coach Randy Shannon.
Brown played in 11 games as a freshman and all 12 as a sophomore, including the Hurricanes' appearance in the Champs Sports Bowl. But he wound up transferring after the season, deciding that he ultimately wanted to play closer to home, and finally enrolled at Kansas State.
After sitting out a year, he put together one of the finest seasons in school history, leading the team with 101 tackles. A couple of them came on that final drive by the Hurricanes, when Brown led a defense with a bend-but-don't break mentality as it made the dramatic goal-line stand.
''We had that dialogue, to not let that become an all-consuming ball game for him emotionally, and I think he did a very good job of that,'' Snyder said. ''He did pretty good about taking it a step at a time, day to day. I think he pretty much did that during the course of that week.''
Mike James is back to lead the Miami offense, only now he's joined by freshman running back Duke Johnson, forming a potent one-two combination behind quarterback Stephen Morris.
Johnson ran for 135 yards and two TDs in last Saturday's 41-32 win over Boston College. It was the most yards rushing by a freshman on college football's opening weekend, and such an impressive performance that Johnson even earned a shout-out from NBA MVP LeBron James via Twitter.
''All those guys are going to continue to rotate,'' Golden said of his running backs. ''We'll make sure they all get touches, and it's going to change week to week, who's doing what.''
One on the other sideline, Collin Klein is back at quarterback for Kansas State. Last season's game at Miami is when Klein first made rumblings on the national radar, throwing for 133 yards and two touchdowns while bullying his way for 93 yards and another TD on the ground.
Klein finished the season with 27 rushing touchdowns and 13 more through the air.
''He was running through people,'' Golden said. ''I think they held a lot back going into last year's game, but clearly we know who he is now, and now it's just a function of stopping him.''
Klein certainly remembers last year's game - albeit from a different vantage point.
''I was just trying to support them, because they were on the field,'' he said of the Wildcats' defensive stand. ''There had been so much given and so much emotion - and energy - spent through the course of the game to have it culminate, in essence, in four plays.''