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The collection of talent that Miami put together during its 2001 national championship season was nothing short of spectacular. One of the key pieces to that team was safety Ed Reed.
On this day 20 years ago, Reed helped preserve a perfect season with an 80-yard touchdown return after an interception at Boston College. The score preserved the victory as Miami survived, 18-7.
Setting the Stage
Miami was a perfect 7-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country as it arrived in Chestnut Hill on Nov. 10, 2001. The Hurricanes had won every game by at least 22 points coming in, but the northern trip began a difficult stretch to close the year.
Boston College was unranked and without standout running back William Green, but at 6-2, was no pushover. The Hurricanes learned that firsthand.
Miami Slams the Door
Miami had gone without a touchdown for more than 59 minutes, but it never trailed as Boston College marched toward victory. The Eagles had moved from their own 30-yard-line to inside the Miami 10 as the clock ticked away.
Trailing 12-7, Boston College had to have a touchdown to stun the top-ranked Hurricanes. That’s what quarterback Brian St. Pierre had in mind as he fired for Ryan Reid near the 2-yard-line.
St. Pierre’s throw however was low and deflected off Miami cornerback Mike Rumph and into the hands of defensive tackle Matt Walters. As Walters was going down, Reed took the ball and went the final 80 yards for the touchdown to seal the victory with just 13 seconds remaining.
Reed’s touchdown would be the lone touchdown of the day for the Hurricanes. Miami went ahead for good in the second quarter with three field goals from Todd Sievers.
Boston College finally got on the scoreboard midway through the third when St. Pierre connected with Sean Ryan for a 9-yard touchdown. Sievers’ fourth field goal early in the fourth pushed the lead to five.
The Hurricanes were plagued by five turnovers, including a Frank Gore fumble with just over two minutes remaining that set up Boston College’s final march. One play before the game-sealing touchdown, St. Pierre connected with Dedrick Dewalt for 21 yards to convert a fourth down and keep the Eagles’ hopes alive.
Despite the heartbreak, Boston College won two of its final three games to finish 8-4 and in the final polls. The Eagles capped the year with a 20-16 win over Georgia in the Music City Bowl.
Miami blasted top-15 Syracuse and Washington teams in the next two weeks by a combined 124-7 margin. After holding off Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, the Hurricanes dismantled Nebraska in the Rose Bowl to win their first national championship in 10 years.
During a 12-0 campaign under first-year head coach Larry Coker, there weren’t many close calls for the Hurricanes. That was far from the case in Chestnut Hill on this day two decades ago.