Wow! Miami beats No. 22 Duke with jaw-dropping, 8-lateral play
DURHAM, N.C. — Corn Elder took Miami’s eighth lateral of a wild final kickoff return and brought it back 75 yards for a touchdown to give Miami an unbelievable 30-27 victory over No. 22 Duke on Saturday night.
Thomas Sirk seemingly had given the Blue Devils (6-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) the win by scoring on a sneak with 6 seconds left.
But in a final sequence reminiscent of California’s unforgettable run through the Stanford band, Elder caught the last of eight laterals, and zigged and zagged through the Duke coverage team for the score.
One problem: A penalty flag thrown on teammate Mark Walton for an illegal block in the back on Breon Borders at the Duke 25.
After a lengthy review, the officials determined the block was to Borders’ side — not his back — and the touchdown stood.
"You know…we just wanted to keep the ball alive," a bewildered Elder said. "You never practice these moments. We talked about it, but we never really practiced it. We had a bunch of playmakers, and we made a play."
The "did-you-see-that" finale capped a tumultuous week for the Hurricanes (5-3, 2-2). Coach Al Golden was fired after the program suffered its worst loss in school history — a 58-0 embarrassment against Clemson — a week ago.
Forgetting that might be easier than Miami thought.
What everyone will remember — and vigorously debate — is the madcap finish that lasted for 49 seconds and wasn’t completely decided until a 9-minute review.
Dallas Crawford fielded Ross Martin’s squib kick at the Miami 25-yard line and flung the ball to Elder, who ran back left before flipping to Jaquan Johnson. Johnson then lateraled to Walton, who let the ball rip as he was being tackled by Alonzo Saxton.
Johnson grabbed it, then flung it to Tyre Brady, who threw it to Elder, who chucked it to Crawford at about the 3. Crawford brought it forward some 10 yards before tossing it back to Elder at the 8.
Elder took it down the left sideline before cutting back at the Duke 40, then running down the middle of the field and into the end zone, where he was finally tackled by teammate Lawrence Cager and, then, the rest of the Hurricanes.
In the background loomed that yellow flag — which would have been the 24th of the game for Miami, adding to a school record. It caused defensive back Sheldrick Redwine to throw his helmet in disgust.
There was plenty for the replay officials to sort out — chiefly, if Walton got rid of the ball before his knee hit the ground. Almost instantly, screen grabs emerged on social media appearing to show Walton was down as fans picked the play apart.
"I’m going to just tell you like it is: I thought the guy was down. And I think pictures will prove me right, that he was down if you want to review it when he lateralled the ball," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said.
But after the long wait, referee Jerry Magallanes had told a crowd waiting in suspense that no Miami runner had a knee down, then said the block in question came from the side, not the back.
It was confirmed. The chaos was enough to win the game.