After Flutie sidestepped Brown, he circled back and around, and was at his 37-yard line when he came forward, planted his left foot and let fly. He said he "really did see Phelan break clear. He was the guy I wanted to get it to, but after I threw the ball, I didn't see anything much until the referee raised his arms. Then, I admit, I couldn't believe it, even when everybody started yelling and picking me up."
Neither could Phelan. Fullington mistimed his leap and was nudged off-balance on the way up by his own man, Sutton, as he also leaped. The ball whistled through their arms. Phelan said, "I saw him misjudge it, and I was thinking, 'Just tip it, keep it in play.' But I was falling and it came down right here [groin level] and when I rolled over, I could see writing on the ground. Colored writing. I was in the end zone!"
A fluke? Well, not really. A Flutie. It's now 10,303 yards since the little big man from Chestnut Hill started doing these slightly amazing things for the Eagles, who haven't had a season like this since 1942, and if Friday's big play wasn't predictable, it was certainly typical. But in the balmy BC dressing room afterward, Flutie himself said it was really all academic. "I don't know why I'm setting all these records, anyway," he said, "because in two years Bernie Kosar will have broken them all. He'll have 10,000 yards his junior year and break every passing record ever written."
Kosar now has 5,971 yards in two seasons, roughly 1,500 ahead of Flutie's pace. And therein lies the dark side of such a game as this. That one of these two young men had to lose.
They are friends, Flutie and Kosar. They met early last spring, during an NCAA promotional tour in Arizona, and played golf together. Nine holes. And when they added up the score, says Flu-tie, "it was 44 apiece. A draw." Perhaps, in the end, Kosar at least deserved another chance with the ball. But this is Flutie's season. A meant-to-be kind of year. Kosar's time will come.
They are, of course, nothing alike as quarterbacks, except that under duress they throw so remarkably well: Nobody throws on the run better than Flutie; nobody throws off-balance better than Kosar. Undoubtedly, if you were starting a pro franchise, you would take Kosar for his size. If that makes Kosar the better quarterback, it doesn't mean that Flutie is not the best college player, which is why he's Heisman bound. It's hard to say who the better passer is or who's the smarter man on the field. They are both so aware of what's happening, so deadly cool, so accomplished at improvising in their own way, within their own styles.
After the play, Flutie searched the field for Kosar, asking Miami players, "Where's Bernie? Where's Bernie?" But Bernie had seen that last pass. He had, in fact, watched Flutie all day, which is unusual because a quarterback normally has other things on his mind when the defense is on the field. "I wanted to see Doug play," he explained. And? "He's awesome." By the same token, when Miami drove 79 yards, starting with 3:50 to go, to take the lead for what seemed the last time, Flutie was snug up to the sideline himself, watching. Kosar completed five passes on that drive for 80 yards—he had to make up two penalties—and when fullback Melvin Bratton plunged the last yard for his fourth touchdown of the day and a 45-41 Miami lead, there were 28 seconds to play.
Flutie, smiling ever so slightly, nodded in tribute. Then he went out and winged BC 80 yards in four plays. 47-45. Finis.
He never found Kosar after the game. With the last score, Kosar began moving slowly off the field, a towel around his neck, his head down. He spoke in semisentences afterward. It had been the second straight brush with Armageddon for a young quarterback who does so many incredible things to win—he has broken just about every Miami game-, season-and career-passing record—that it's inconceivable that he could ever lose. He's now the quarterback of a team that has run up 85 points in its last two games—and lost both. ( Miami blew a 31-0 halftime lead in its Nov. 10 42-40 loss to Maryland.) Counting his efforts against Boston College, Kosar has accounted for 810 passing yards in two games, only to find that total insufficient to save the Miami defense. (After the game, Hurricane defensive coordinator Bill Trout announced that he was quitting over "a question of [defensive] philosophy" with head coach Jimmy Johnson. The thoroughly exasperated Trout said that he was going into the "tomato-packing business.")
Flutie will finish up against Holy Cross this week, and then face whoever draws the short straw in the Southwest Conference in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day. Pity the poor devils. After that, he will await the NFL draft, hoping, he says, "that I've proved what I can do."