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The top 100 FSU football plays: No. 16 — Ward to Frier breaks tie vs. Miami

The Fast-Break offense strikes again.

FSU wide receiver Matt Frier scores vs. Miami on October 9, 1993.

Date: October 9, 1993

Location: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.

Opponent: No. 3 Miami Hurricanes

Long before Chip Kelly’s Oregon Duck super-tempo offense would perfect the art of scoring quickly, there was Florida State’s fast-break offense, led by soon-to-be Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward.

FSU entered the 1993 game against the Miami Hurricanes 5-0, having already scored 40 or more points four times and breaking half-a-hundred twice. The 1993 Hurricanes defense featured two future NFL Hall of Famers in defensive tackle Warren Sapp and linebacker Ray Lewis, but while the Seminoles would be held to less than thirty points only three times in the 1993 season, and this game was one of them, the two future gold jacket wearers still couldn’t stop the fast-break from breaking their hearts.

FSU had acutely felt that heartbreak themselves, having lost to Miami the previous two years by Wide Right I and II, and this year would not be denied. Seminole running back Sean Jackson opened the game with an incredible 69 yard touchdown run, putting FSU up 7-0 just 3:43 into the game.

Miami answered with a touchdown of their own at the end of a 9-play 60 yard drive that finished with a 6 yard pass from quarterback Frank Costa to running back Donnell Bennett.

Still in the first quarter, FSU got the ball back. On third and ten, Charlie Ward lined up in shotgun next to Warrick Dunn with a 2 x 2 wide receiver formation. Ward took the snap, and while surveying the field was flushed out of the pocket because of pressure up the middle from Sapp, who had beaten left guard Patrick McNeil.

McNeil, beaten, perhaps saved the play; as Sapp ran past him and was about to sack Ward, McNeil managed to give Sapp one final push with all he had, forcing Sapp farther upfield than he wanted and making him arc back in his pursuit of Ward. Ward scrambled to his right and kept his cool and his eyes downfield despite Sapp bearing down on him from behind. Trying to find someone open and running out of real estate and time, Ward hesitated as he looked to his left and then saw a streaking Matt Frier down the right sideline. Ward smoothly flicked his wrist and launched it:

FSU quarterback Charlie Ward throws a 72 yard touchdown to Matt Frier while pursued by Miami defensive tackle Warren Sapp.

Frier caught it and turned on the jets, outrunning Miami linebacker Rohan Marley to the end zone for the 72 yard game-winning score.

Miami linebacker Rohan Marley contemplates a vegetarian diet of dirt and turf after his failed pursuit of FSU wide receiver Matt Frier. October 9, 1993.
FSU reciever Matt Frier crosses the goal line and celebrates after scoring a 72 yard touchdown against an inferior team on October 9, 1993.

The 72 yard pass set a new record for Ward’s longest completion. Kicker Scott Bentley tacked on the extra point and FSU was up 14-7. Florida State would later go up 21-10, and with minutes to play FSU safety Devin Bush would jump in front of Costa’s pass for a pick six and the 28-10 win.

FSU only scored 28 points in the win, but it was the most they had scored against Miami since 1984 and the win extended Florida State’s streak to 13. The Seminoles racked up 450 yards of offense at a 7.4 yard per play clip. FSU’s No. 1 scoring defense held Miami to 4.2 yards per play.

Miami defensive back Terris Harris and wide receiver Chris Jones were complimentary of FSU after the game, but Bennett decided to bring his own salt:

I still don’t think they’re number one. I think we are. Today, they just proved that they’re good. I’m a true Hurricane. I bleed orange and green, and I believe we can still win the national championship.

Miami would go on to lose two more games, finishing the season 9-3 after getting shut-out by No. 16 Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl 29-0. Florida State would go on to win their first ever National Championship.