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Despite early frustrations, Dorsey keeps composure

Miami's Heisman hopeful rebounds from 3 turnovers, improving to 32-1 as a starter.

© St. Petersburg Times
published October 13, 2002

MIAMI -- It was late and neither Ken Dorsey nor Willis McGahee looked like Heisman Trophy hopefuls.

The top-ranked Hurricanes were in danger of losing for the first time in 28 games, 19 at home and 18 since Larry Coker became coach.

Then the UM quarterback, who improved to 32-1 as a starter, executed the two-minute drill to perfection. Trailing Florida State 27-14, Dorsey drove the 'Canes 70 yards, culminating in a 2-yard touchdown toss to Kevin Beard. After the defense forced FSU to punt, Dorsey connected on a short screen pass to McGahee, and the tailback ran 68 yards with it.

Jason Geathers scored from 11 yards and Miami led 28-27 en route to another win over the Seminoles. All that was needed was for FSU to miss another last-second field goal, which it did for the fourth time since 1991.

Game over. Streaks alive. And the reputations of Dorsey and McGahee remain intact.

"I knew what I had to do," McGahee said of his catch and run that electrified a record crowd of 81,927. "I didn't do nothing the first half so I had to make something happen, and fortunately something did happen and we got it going from there."

McGahee struggled on the ground with 46 yards in the first half. Dorsey was worse.

He threw two interceptions in the red zone. He also fumbled the snap from center at the FSU 15.

But when the 'Canes needed their offensive leaders the most, they responded.

"I think he's the best quarterback in college football," tight end Kellen Winslow said. "He's smart and composed, and he has a lot of heart. He had a bad game today, but it's because we didn't make plays for him."

Added guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli: "He's a tremendously confident guy. He never loses his poise. They were talking trash to him the whole game, pushing him, shoving him. I told him, "Dorsey, don't fight. I'm too tired to fight.' And fortunately he didn't."

Dorsey was 20-for-45 for 362 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. McGahee had 95 yards rushing and 78 through the air.

Coker said though the numbers may not be typical of Dorsey, the result was.

"When the game was on the line, he made plays," Coker said. "He was outstanding."

Added receiver Andre Johnson: "Dorsey's a fighter. I know he's never going to give up."

While Dorsey looked frustrated at times, and his passes were often off target, he said he never doubted the ability to come back.

"I knew I had to throw completions and get the ball to my playmakers," Dorsey said. "The two-minute drill really sparked us. ... We kind of forced them to show their hand a bit and it was a big tool to get us going."

With the win, Dorsey became the first quarterback from either school to win three games in the series -- fifth to get three starts in the series. More important, Dorsey, along with his talented tailback, kept UM on track to play for a second straight national title. Even if the performance was rough around the edges.

Or as coach Bobby Bowden put it: "You can't hold that quarterback down for so long. He's that darned good."

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