1989 Florida State vs. Miami
By Dave Bagchi
NationalChamps.net Writer


October 28, 1989
#8 Florida State 24 ... #2 Miami 10


Entering the field on a humid Saturday night in Tallahassee, the eighth-ranked (5-2) Florida State Seminoles were decisive underdogs to the second-ranked (6-0) Miami Hurricanes. Miami brought the nation's top-ranked scoring defense, top-ranked total defense, a three-game win streak in the series, a defensive front lead by Russell Maryland, Cortez Kennedy, Willis Peguese and Greg Mark and a thirteen-game win streak. Florida State started the season in miserable fashion, having lost to Brett Favre's Southern Miss team and then the Clemson Tigers at home. The battered Seminole defense had allowed sixty-four points in the season's first two games and entered this battle with Miami allowing nearly eighteen points per game. Florida State had not beaten Miami at home in ten years. And to add insult to injury, just one season ago, Miami had annihilated the Seminoles in the season opener, 31-0, in front of a national televised audience. Preseason #1 FSU had entered the game dancing and rapping, but Miami dominated from start to finish holding Seminole Heisman hopeful Sammie Smith to just six yards on ten carries. The game cost Florida State the national championship. In fact, each of the past two seasons, Miami had dealt the Seminoles their only loss. It was revenge time in Tallahassee.

This ESPN televised primetime game was played in front of a sellout crowd 62,602 at Doak Campbell Stadium. The only question mark for the Hurricanes entering this game was at quarterback. Junior Craig Erickson had injured his right hand and was replaced in the season's fourth game against Michigan State. Redshirt freshman Gino Torretta had lead Miami to 104 points in his first two starts, throwing for a school record, 468 yards in his last win over San Jose State. The Seminoles were lead by four senior starters; quarterback Peter Tom Willis, running back Dexter Carter, and two All-Americans, linebacker Odell Haggins and safety LeRoy Butler.

In the game's electrifying opening quarter, neither team disappointed. Just one minute into the game, the Seminole faithful were placed in a frenzy as LeRoy Butler intercepted Torretta's first pass of the game. One play later, Dexter Carter raced off left tackle thirty-seven yards for the game's opening score for the longest offensive play allowed by Miami all season. The Canes responded by driving sixty-five yards for a touchdown culminating in an eight-yard pass from Torretta to wideout Randal Hill. The Seminoles regained the lead on a one-yard touchdown run by Edgar Bennett. Again, the Canes responded, this time by marching for a 44-yard field goal by walk-on kicker Carlos Huerta. As the opening quarter ended, Florida State had a tenuous 14-10 lead.

Over the next two quarters, each team missed opportunities and made crucial mistakes. Torretta, who had not thrown an interception in his first two starts, ended with four INTs for the game with two going to FSU's sophomore linebacker Kirk Carruthers. In the second quarter with the score still FSU 14-10, Torretta drove the Canes to the FSU one-yard line. On third and goal, Miami ran play-action and Torretta lofted a pass to Wesley Carroll in the end zone. Linebacker Kevin Grant's interception stalled the Canes drive. In all, Miami ended the game with six turnovers, eleven penalties for ninety-four yards and one turnover on downs inside their own one-yard line. Florida State's Peter Tom Willis was responsible for two turnovers of his own. One was a key interception in the third quarter to Miami cover man Roland Smith, giving Miami the ball at the FSU 40, still down 14-10.

Torretta drove the Canes to the one-yard line, where Carruthers made the play of the game. Fullback Shannon Crowell was stripped as he went over the top and Carruthers recovered the fumble at the one-yard line for the decisive play in the game. Florida State then stuck the dagger in the heart of the Canes mounting a 99-yard drive covering twelve plays. Behind Dexter Carter's running, a pass interference call on Miami's Kenny Berry, and a key 51-yard pass from Willis to wide receiver Ronald Lewis, the Seminoles took control of the game. Amp Lee's one-yard touchdown run gave Florida State a 21-10 lead.

FSU kicker Richie Andrews added a 41-yard field goal to give the Noles a 24-10 cushion early the final quarter. Again, Torretta drove Miami to the one-yard line late in the game, but again, the Canes failed as he fired incomplete to Dale Dawkins on fourth down. It was a game of "should'ves, would'ves, and could'ves" for the Canes. But there was no denying Florida State, who rammed the nation's best defense for 220 rushing yards and 354 total yards. Dexter Carter ran 21 times for 142 yards as the Noles out gained the Canes by almost 100 yards on the ground. The game still stands in the FSU record books under 'Most Penalty First Downs in a Game', with 13. It was a mistake filled bloodbath between two of the nation's biggest heavyweights. And it was a revenge game that Seminole fans and coaches will never forget.

"This feels so good," said Coach Bobby Bowden. "It's the way it should have been the last four years, I guess. This is just a great win for us." And the game, that at least momentarily, evened a rivalry.

Florida State would go on to end the season at 10-2 and #3 in the nation. After their 41-17 thumping of Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl, many believed the Noles were the nation's best team at season's end. But that distinction would go to these same Miami Hurricanes. Quarterback Craig Erickson returned to lead Miami to an 11-1 season and a National Championship, including a 27-10 whooping of then top-ranked Notre Dame. It was Miami's third championship in their last seven seasons.