Oft-criticized Dorsey struggles in final game as Miami's QBPosted: Saturday January 04, 2003 12:42 AM
Updated: Saturday January 04, 2003 4:44 AM
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Ken Dorsey's final pass was incomplete. He felt the same way about his career at Miami.
Playing his last game with the Hurricanes on college football's biggest stage Friday night, Dorsey struggled against Ohio State's vaunted defense. He threw two interceptions, fumbled once and was sacked four times as the Buckeyes' ended Miami's 34-game winning streak in the Fiesta Bowl to win the national title.
Dorsey had a chance to tie the game in double overtime, but his fourth-down pass fluttered through the air and landed in the end zone. He dropped to his knees, then got up and trudged off the field staring at the ground through his facemask and trying to cope with the 31-24 loss to Ohio State.
Sitting in the locker room with a towel draped over his head and tears rolling down his face, Dorsey took a few seconds to gather himself before becoming his toughest critic, taking the blame for his second loss in 39 starts.
It was the first time this season Dorsey didn't try to defend himself.
"This is something you just can't describe," Dorsey said. "It hurts. Losing hurts. For me, it hurts even more thinking back to what this team has done. I should have made some of those throws, and I take responsibility for that."
Dorsey spent much of the year defending his deficiencies despite helping the top-ranked Hurricanes reach a second consecutive national championship game.
Critics say Dorsey lacks arm strength, accuracy and mobility, has average numbers, is surrounded by so much talent that just about anyone could run Miami's offense, and isn't even the best player in his own backfield.
Ohio State must have thought so, too. The Buckeyes stacked the line of scrimmage, focusing on stopping Willis McGahee and forcing Dorsey to beat them with the pass.
Or as Dorsey saw it, he failed.
"They just executed their game plan better than us," Dorsey said.
McGahee carried 20 times for 67 yards before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury.
Still, Dorsey helped give the Hurricanes a shot to tie the game in the second overtime, even after missing one play after getting hit by linebacker Matt Wilhelm. Dorsey said he wasn't injured; he just felt a sharp pain in his chest. Backup Derrick Crudup completed an 8-yard pass on third down, then Dorsey re-entered with the game -- and the season -- riding on one play.
He completed a first-down pass to Kellen Winslow Jr., but a few plays later -- facing another fourth down, this one from the 1-yard line -- Cie Grant pressured Dorsey and he threw the wobbly, incomplete pass into the end zone.
"I was just trying not to take a sack," Dorsey said. "I should have accounted for him, but I didn't."
Several Hurricanes started crying as they left the field. And many more, including Dorsey, joined them in the locker room.
"It's pretty tough to swallow," guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli said, fighting back tears. "It's just a tough loss for us. That's all I can say."
"It feels unreal," fullback Quadtrine Hill said. "After the game was over, it felt like we had one play left. It can't be over. It's something I never want to feel again."
Dorsey did rally the Hurricanes from a 10-point deficit to tie it at 17 on a 40-yard field goal by Todd Sievers on the final play of regulation.
Dorsey finished 28-of-43 for 296 yards. He gave the Hurricanes the lead in the first overtime with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Winslow but couldn't get them in the end zone again.
Losing for the first time since September 2000 against Washington, Dorsey ended his career 38-2 as a starter. Both losses ended in similar fashion -- with Dorsey trying to overcome several early mistakes.
Dorsey, who threw for 3,073 yards and 26 touchdowns during the regular season, was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, the Davey O'Brien and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards as the nation's top quarterback, the Maxwell Award as the nation's best all-around player and the Walter Camp Player of the Year award.
He missed out on all of them. He also missed out on another championship ring -- something he had made his No. 1 priority this season.
"You win as a team, you lose as a team," defensive end Jerome
McDougle said. "You don't want to point fingers. It's hard for
everybody. You just have to suck it up."