30-Year CFB Anniversary: Wide Right II — Miami Tops FSU on Missed Kick for Second Straight Season

Think about the great rivalry contests of the late-1980s and early-1990s between Florida State and Miami and two words probably come to mind:

Wide right.

On this day 30 years ago, those words brought joy to the Hurricanes and agony to the Seminoles. For the second year in a row, Miami topped FSU in a top-3 showdown on a late missed kick, 19-16.

Setting the Stage

FSU and Miami were each undefeated and ranked in the top three when they arrived at the old Orange Bowl on Oct. 3, 1992. Off to a 4-0 start, the Seminoles had already knocked off a pair of top-20 opponents. At 3-0, Miami had slipped by Arizona the week before following wins over No. 23 Iowa and Florida A&M.

The Hurricanes had won two straight in the series, including the year prior in Tallahassee in a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2. A missed field goal by FSU’s Gerry Thomas in the final minute ultimately gave the Hurricanes a 17-16 victory. Miami would go on to share the national championship with Washington.

Unfortunately for the Seminoles, a trip south would bring history repeated.

Wide Right II

A 94-yard return for a touchdown by Tamarick Vanover on the opening kickoff resulted in FSU’s only touchdown. Heading into the fourth quarter, that was the difference as FSU led 16-10.

The final quarter was more than midway through when Miami went ahead for good. Eventual Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Lamar Thomas put Miami in front 17-16.

With less than three minutes to go, it appeared that a gaffe by FSU punt returner Corey Sawyer might seal the win for Miami. After fielding the punt, Sawyer retreated into his own end zone and was tackled for a safety. The FSU defense, however, would rise to the occasion and get a stop.

Backed inside his own 20-yard-line, FSU quarterback Charlie Ward had some magic. After a 25-yard completion to Kez McCorvey on 4th-and-12 kept the drive alive for the Seminoles, a Ward keeper and then strike to Matt Frier — both for 17 yards — moved FSU into field goal range.

With the ball at the Miami 22-yard-line and eight seconds left, kicker Dan Mowrey trotted onto the field. Mowrey had been 3-for-5 on field goal attempts to that point into the contest. On the game’s final snap, Mowrey’s kick sailed right.

For the third straight time and second year in a row on a missed kick, Miami found a way to beat the Seminoles.

Full gamebook:


In Hindsight

The miss would have a major bearing on the national championship race. The Seminoles closed the year on a 7-game winning streak to finish 11-1 and No. 2 in the final polls.

Miami ascended to No. 1 and kept that ranking for the rest of the regular season. In the Sugar Bowl, however, the Hurricanes were handled by second-ranked Alabama for the national championship.

For FSU, late misses against Miami would remain a theme. Missed kicks at the end of the game would cost FSU contests at the Orange Bowl in 2000 and 2002. The first of those memorable misses in South Florida came on this day three decades ago.

Photo courtesy of NCAA.com

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.