The curse is over. The streak is snapped. The Hurricanes can breathe again.
After seven consecutive losses to Florida State, the No. 13 University of Miami prevailed 24-20 Saturday on a 23-yard touchdown completion from Malik Rosier to Darrell Langham with six seconds left at Doak Campbell Stadium in front of 78,169 crazed fans.
The touchdown came on UM’s last-gasp drive — after Seminoles freshman quarterback James Blackman connected with receiver Auden Tate for a late, fourth-quarter score (1:24 left) for the second week in a row to put the Seminoles ahead 20-17.
Langham's game winner caused the Hurricanes to clear the bench and rejoice so ferociously that they were penalized for excessive celebration. Raising the level of drama, officials reviewed Langham's touchdown, ultimately deciding he broke the plane of the goal line before his knee touched the ground a half-yard short.
Had the play been ruled dead and the touchdown negated, the penalty would have put UM back at the 16-yard line for one more play with six seconds left.
“I didn’t know if I was in or not,’’ Langham said. “I was just happy I caught the ball...and happy I ended the streak.’’
Between both teams, there were 31 points scored in the final quarter after 13 combined in the first three.
“What can you say?’’ UM coach Mark Richt told reporters after the victory. “I don’t know if Langham was smiling as big up here as he was when he walked out the door. But just to see a guy like that make a play like that and get to smile like that is a lot of fun. We had a wonderful celebration in the locker room. It was a long time coming for our players, coaches, administration, but certainly a long time coming for our fans. I’m probably most happy for them...
“It doesn’t matter how you win a game like this. Really, quite frankly, it doesn’t matter how you win any game, if you just do it within the rules. Because wins are hard to get. I’m just thankful. Praise the lord.’’
Senior receiver Braxton Berrios had eight catches for 90 yards, a career-long 44-yard punt return and two crucial touchdown catches — one with 5:09 left in the game that put UM up 17-13 and the other that put UM up 10-3 with 6:57 left in the third quarter.
The Hurricanes (4-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) had not beaten unranked FSU (1-3, 1-2) since 2009.
“Congratulations to Miami,’’ FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “They did a heck of a job, played a heck of a football game, made the plays they had to make at the end.
“Florida State played a hell of a football game, too...It was a classic game. It was a great game.’’
With Miami leading10-3 in the final quarter of the gritty, hard-hitting game, Florida State scored 10 consecutive points.
Ricky Aguayo’s 38-yard field goal with 6:55 left gave FSU a 13-10 lead after Miami had scored 10 points in the third quarter to rally from a 3-0 deficit.
Blackman threw a 15-yard touchdown to tight end Ryan Izzo to cap a 77-yard drive and tie the score at 10-10 with 12:17 left before Aguayo’s field goal.
Rosier completed 19 of 44 passes for 254 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Blackman was 17 of 28 for 203 yards, two touchdowns and two picks.
FSU’s Cam Akers rushed for 121 yards on 20 carries, with Jacques Patrick adding 91 yards rushing.
UM was held to 83 yards rushing, only 25 of them by Mark Walton, who for the third straight week went down late with what appeared to be a leg or ankle injury.
Also hurting again: Ahmmon Richards, who might have reinjured his previously pulled hamstring.
Another UM injury: freshman guard Navaughn Donaldson, who went out late on the same play as Walton.
The Hurricanes discovered immediately that FSU was a whole different animal from what they faced in their three wins over Bethune-Cookman, Toledo and Duke – one with a defense that snarled and bit and put a smothering smackdown on Miami.
UM’s defense again held tough much of the game, with four sacks, nine tackles for loss and interceptions by Michael Jackson and Dee Delaney.
Except for surrendering a couple long runs to Patrick (33 and 30 yards apiece) early in the game, UM’s defense was dominant. The Canes’ D saved its initially hapless offense, though a debilitating penalty by cornerback Jackson led to FSU’s only first-half points, a 27-yard field goal.
In the first quarter, Miami generated 24 yards – 15 rushing and 9 passing, with Rosier completing two of six passes for 6 yards. Walton added nine yards rushing on four carries – a 2.2-yard-per-carry average for the man who entered the game second in the nation with 9.1 yards per rush.
By the half, the Canes were up to 57 total yards – 23 yards rushing and 34 passing.
The Seminoles meanwhile generated 124 yards in the initial quarter – 96 rushing and 28 passing by Blackman. But it was enough to come away with the three points by Aguayo at 4:20. The field goal came six plays after Jackson was flagged for roughing the passer after he tipped a third-down Blackman pass that was incomplete and would have given UM the ball otherwise.
But Jackson came to the rescue with 1:02 remaining in the first half when he intercepted a pass intended for Tate. He ran off the field, had the gold Turnover Chain draped around his neck and sprinted in glee along the UM bench. Officials determined during a replay that the interception was good, but that was about as happy as UM would get in the first half.
The Canes took over on their own 32 and were smothered again by the FSU defense, which forced them to punt for the seventh time of the half.