Date: October 8, 2016
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL
Opponent: #10 Miami
Hyperbole is often used to describe events surrounding the game of college football. Announcers, analysts, and writers will overstate the importance of an event to heighten drama and interest. They will say things like “this play will decide the game” or “this game could very well dictate the rest of the season.” Oftentimes, these statements are throwaways that have become a normal part of the commenter’s lexicon. Tired cliches that are used without proper thought given to the context. However, it is not a stretch to say that on the night of October, 8, 2016, a play happened that was truly worthy of the praise that it received.
The 2016 Florida State football team was on the brink of disaster. After a promising come from behind victory in the opener against ’Ole Miss, the season quickly took a turn. Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals eviscerated the ’Noles with a brutal swiftness. That game was over before most Seminole fans could process what actually happened. FSU then beat USF on the road, and choked away a win against the University of North Carolina at home. The team sat at a record of 3-2 and was effectively eliminated from the race for the College Football Playoff and the ACC Championship. A trip to Miami was next on the schedule.
At the time, Florida State had defeated the Canes in 6 straight games. The Miami players and fans sensed that they were getting ready to face a Seminole team that was on the ropes. Florida State had no shot of accomplishing their lofty preseason goals, and there were legitimate concerns about the team’s effort and motivation. Could a team with essentially nothing left to play for come out with a victory in a hostile environment? The experts didn’t think so, as Miami was favored in the matchup. One person who never had a doubt in his mind about FSU’s chances was DeMarcus Walker.
The game that night was a wild affair. The Hurricanes came out of the gate on fire and raced to a 13-0 lead. However, the ’Noles roared back and had a 20-13 lead in the 4th quarter. When Miami scored to make the game 20-19, everyone in the stadium, and watching at home, was preparing themselves for the extra point to go through the uprights. Michael Badgley, the Canes placekicker, had made 72 consecutive extra points at the time of the kick. It was a foregone conclusion that this game would be tied. Nobody believed there was a chance that Badgley would miss. Nobody except DeMarcus Walker.
The ball was snapped and Walker knifed his way towards the kicker. He extended his arm towards the ball and the unthinkable happened. The kick was blocked, and Badgley’s streak stayed at 72. The fans of the U were stunned, and the fans of the ’Noles were ecstatic. Florida State went on to win that game, extend their streak against Miami, and turn the corner on the 2016 football season. The Seminoles finished with 10 wins, an Orange Bowl victory against Michigan, and a #8 ranking in the final AP poll.
In contrast to what was stated at the beginning of this piece, some plays are really everything that they are hyped up to be. The “Block at Hard Rock,” which is the nickname given to Walker’s deflection of Badgley’s kick, is one of those plays. Who knows what would have happened in the rest of that game, or FSU’s season, without Walker’s 4th quarter heroics. He saved a team on the edge of destruction and further cemented himself as a Seminole great. It was a play that will be talked about long after this article and a worthy start to this list of all-time great Florida State moments.