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'Heisman Play' is Heisman-sized flop

By BOB HARIG, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2002


MIAMI -- They call it the "Heisman Play" in honor of Nebraska's Eric Crouch, who won the award last year and scored a touchdown in similar fashion. They practice it every week, nearly every day. Apparently, it needs some more work.

When Miami backup tailback Jarrett Payton attempted to throw to quarterback Ken Dorsey, the ball was picked off and returned 96 yards for a touchdown by Virginia Tech's Willie Pile.

UM was on the 1-yard line, going in to score to make it 56-21. Instead, it became 49-27.

"That got me upset," said UM center Brett Romberg, who cringed when he heard the play called in the huddle. "We still had a lot of football left. We had never run that play in a game, and sometimes it doesn't work in practice. You saw it kind of change the tempo of the game. It was crazy."

The Hokies added a field goal and another touchdown to cut the lead to 49-37 before UM pulled away Saturday for a 56-45 victory.

Still, if the Hokies had gotten back into the game because of the play ...

"It was a bad call," said UM coach Larry Coker, who added boffensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski sent in the play. "We learned a big lesson. There are no safe leads."

McGORSEY 4 HEISMAN: Neither of UM's Heisman Trophy candidates disappointed in the final regular-season game. Dorsey passed for more than 200 yards for the 30th time in his career and it was the eighth time he threw for 300, including four times this season. Willis McGahee had a career-high 205 rushing yards and had a school-record six rushing touchdowns. That broke the record of five set by Bill L'Italien against Piedmont in 1933.

Dorsey and McGahee are expected to be invited to New York Dec. 16 for a wide-open Heisman Trophy race.

"I think both of them deserve the Heisman," UM guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli said. "I think they should just split it right down the middle."

Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer knows who he'd pick.

"My vote is for McGahee. And he should not bother to hang around anymore. Dorsey is a senior and has done all he can. Go win the national championship, win the Heisman, you've done everything you can."

NO FUN IN THE SUN: The temperature was in the high 70s, a stark departure from Blacksburg, Va., where the Hokies had to practice indoors most of last week. The town got 8 inches of snow on Wednesday, followed by an inch of ice overnight, with a low temperature of 19. And it seemed as though it took Virginia Tech a little time to thaw out, as the Hokies quickly fell behind 14-0.

"We didn't play like we had to," Beamer said. "We hung in there and made some big plays and we played a great football team."

ODDS AND ENDS: Virginia Tech tailback Lee Suggs' 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter extended his NCAA record to 26 straight games with a touchdown. ... Suggs and Kevin Jones came into the game averaging 169.5 yards as a tandem. The Hurricanes held the duo to 56, but were burned by quarterback Bryan Randall, who rushed for 132 yards on 25 attempts. ... . UM allowed a 91-yard kickoff return, a 71-yard punt return and a 96-yard interception return. ... While UM will play in the Fiesta Bowl, Virginia Tech's bowl destination is not clear. If Notre Dame gets an at-large BCS bid, Tech will play in the Continental Tire Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. But if ND isn't in the BCS, Tech could go to the San Francisco Bowl or Motor City Bowl.

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