Jan 1, 2004
By MARK LONG
MIAMI (AP) - Florida State didn't want this rematch. Now everyone knows why.
Jarrett Payton ran for 131 yards, Jon Peattie kicked three field goals and Miami shut out the Seminoles in the second half to give the Hurricanes a 16-14 win in the Orange Bowl on Thursday night.
It was No. 10 Miami's fifth consecutive victory in the heated series - its longest winning streak since 1957. No. 9 Florida State lost consecutive bowl games for the first time since the 1979 and 1980 seasons.
Like several other memorable games in this storied rivalry, the outcome was decided by a kicker.
Not only did Peattie hit a career-long 51-yarder to give the Hurricanes the lead in the third quarter, but Florida State's Xavier Beitia missed a 39-yarder with 5:30 to play.
And yes, it was wide right.
"I missed it," Beitia said. "There's nothing else to say. I didn't make the kick. What is there to say? I didn't make the kick. Nothing else to say. There were seven minutes left. I didn't make the kick."
It was the fifth time a Florida State kicker has missed a decisive kick in this rivalry. Beitia also missed a 43-yarder wide left against Miami as time expired in 2002, and the Hurricanes won 28-27.
"We've got something on their kicker," Miami linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. "I don't know what it is, but I'm glad we got it."
Added linebacker D.J. Williams: "It feels great to beat anyone, but it's especially sweet to beat your biggest rival. Maybe it's a mystique, some kind of a curse. I know it's always in the back of their kicker's mind."
Miami (11-2) sealed the latest victory with a defensive stand with less than two minutes to play. Chris Rix's final pass fell incomplete. Rix was 2-of-12 for 18 yards in the second half - another poor performance against Miami.
He threw two interceptions in the first meeting.
"What you had was two great defenses there, and it really came down to who made the fewest mistakes is going to win," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "If we'd kicked that ball through the goal post, we'd have been all right."
Payton provided many of the big plays on offense, and Sean Taylor, Vince Wilfork and others did the damage on defense.
But Peattie was equally effective.
His 51-yarder came a play after Miami punted. Florida State (10-3) was penalized 5 yards for illegal substitution, moving the Hurricanes into field-goal range.
Peattie also connected from 32 and 44 yards. He had one blocked from 45 yards with 2:18 remaining, but it didn't matter. Miami set up the attempt when D.J. Williams ran 31 yards on a fake punt on fourth-and-1 from Miami's own 32.
"That was really a great call," Bowden said. "It was a gutty call."
It was the second of three meetings in less than 11 months between the instate rivals. Miami beat Florida State 22-14 in October, and they are scheduled to open the 2004 season in Miami - the Hurricanes' first game as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
No one wanted this rematch in the Orange Bowl. And when the Bowl Championship Series announced the pairings early last month, coaches, players and fans were disappointed.
But once the initial shock wore off, everyone realized what they were getting - an intense rivalry game between two of college football's top programs.
The game certainly proved that.
Trailing 14-10, the Hurricanes were in position to take the lead before halftime with the ball at the 13. But the Seminoles sacked Brock Berlin on consecutive plays - the first sacks against Miami in the last five meetings.
Peattie opened the scoring with a 32-yarder on the first possession.
Florida State scored touchdowns on consecutive possessions in the second quarter to take a 14-3 lead. Lorenzo Booker took a direct snap and ran around the right end for a 10-yard score on the first play of the second quarter.
Four plays after an 8-yard punt by Brian Monroe, Greg Jones ran up the middle for 24 yards and set up Chris Rix's 7-yard touchdown pass to Matt Henshaw. Jones broke through the line, eluded two linebackers and then ran over All-America safety Sean Taylor at the 15.
The Hurricanes scored on the ensuing possession - behind more strong runs by Payton - to make it 14-10. Payton turned the corner on the left side and gained 46 yards, then had runs of 6 and 2 yards to set up Tyrone Moss' 3-yard touchdown.
Payton ran for 97 yards in the first meeting, which was played on a sloppy field in Tallahassee. He did most of damage then between the tackles. He was more effective Thursday night outside, showing a rare burst of speed.
"It's not like they beat the heck out of us or we beat the heck out of them," Bowden said. "One play. They made one more than we did. That doesn't have to necessarily be a kick. ... Those two teams tonight are about as evenly matched as two teams can be."