The 30th Anniversary of Hail Flutie

Kosar and Brown

Miami’s second-year QB went 0-for-3 on his team’s first possession, and the Canes’ second drive began with two runs for little gain. Finally, on 3rd & long ‒ and with BC having outgained the Hurricanes in yards 144 to 3 to that point‒ Kosar completed his first pass of the day, finding Eddie Brown. The receiver crosses the middle and is wide open in the coverage seam when Kosar hits him. The play goes for 37 yards:

Bernie-Kosar-Pass-Eddie Brown-37y-004

This was merely a harbinger of things to come from this duo. They would connect 10 times in all, with throws to Brown accounting for 220 ‒ nearly half ‒ of Kosar’s 447 passing yards. Brown’s speed, quickness and agility were sights to behold, and on his final catch of the game he displayed tenacity and determination that helped set up what might have been Miami’s winning score.

In the game’s final minute, the Hurricanes line up at the Eagles 25-yard line. Brown runs a quick out route down the left sideline, making his cut right at the first-down marker:

Kosar’s throw is on target, and BC defender Neil Iton (#43) overshoots his mark and fails to complete the tackle. Brown turns upfield as another Eagle, All-American cornerback Tony Thurman (#17), arrives to try to stop him. With Thurman holding onto his right leg with an ironclad grip, Brown takes several hops forward dragging the defensive back along with him, picking up another 10 yards in the process:

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The play is finally blown dead with Miami having earned 1st and goal at the 5-yard line with 46 seconds left, and the Canes would take the lead two plays later. Brown would exit the game with strained knee ligaments, but he left an indelible and spectacular mark.

Go Around or Over Them

In a game with 92 combined points and 1,273 yards of total offense, citing defenders as positive contributing factors might seem ridiculous. Yet the Boston College defensive front ‒ particularly All-American nose tackle Mike Ruth and defensive ends Chuck Gorecki and John Bosa ‒ proved disruptive. Few Miami running plays between the tackles gained significant yardage, and the Canes’ best rushing success came beyond the edges. Meanwhile, the front consistently pressured Kosar in passing situations, threatening or collapsing the pocket and forcing him out of his comfort zone.

On this play, Ruth makes a one-armed stop on running back Melvin Bratton (we’ll look closer at this Hurricane’s talents later, making Ruth’s play all the more impressive):

Mike Ruth one-arm

Later, Bosa registered the game’s first sack on Kosar with help from his linemates. To sell the play-action fake, Miami’s left tackle and guard both pull to the right to open a hole for running back Warren Williams (#24). Off the snap, tight end Willie Smith (#84), at the far left of the Canes’ O-line opposite Gorecki, gets a free release off the line of scrimmage. Gorecki doesn’t chip him, nor does he advance into the backfield. Instead, he waits to see if Williams is getting the hand-off from Kosar:

BC-Miami-John-Bosa-Bernie-Kosar-Sack

Once Williams heads through the hole without the ball, Gorecki lets him pass uncontested and instead confronts Bratton (#5) , the backfield blocker; it’s a mismatch, and Gorecki tosses him aside. Taking their cues, Bosa and then Ruth work around their blockers, and Bosa hauls Kosar to the turf.

Bratton Down the Hatches

While the two preceding clips show the Hurricanes RB in an unflattering light, they were the exceptions in this game. Filling in for Highsmith, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in Miami’s loss to Maryland, the freshman was nothing short of sensational in his first career start when used in roles that showcased his speed and agility. Bratton piled up 134 ground yards and 4 rushing TDs, but when Flutie grabbed the game’s headlines it rendered Bratton’s performance a footnote. Thirty years later, the video tells the tale.

With Miami trailing 28-21 but driving at the Eagles 24-yard line, Kosar makes a great blitz read as BC sends their linebackers up the gut. He hits Bratton to his left on a swing route, and the RB picks up steam. Bratton then makes an acrobatic dive to avoid the hit by Iton (#43) and gets down to the 2-yard line:

Bernie-Kosar-Blitz Read-Melvin-Bratton-Swing

On the next play, Bratton would make another dive, this time straight ahead over the pile and into the end zone.

Later, after the Eagles took a 34-31 lead on a Kevin Snow 4th-quarter field goal, Miami embarked on a drive that saw Bratton pull off an incredible run. Taking the handoff from Kosar at the Miami 49, he sweeps right, tightropes the sideline, and makes a series of impressive cutbacks while intermittently turning on the jets. At least five opponents get a hand on him, but he manages to break free of each grasp:

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A block by fullback Warren Williams on BC’s David Thomas (#50) frees Bratton up to make the turn at the line of scrimmage:

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Soon enough Bratton works his way across the field to the left corner of the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown and a 38-34 Miami lead.

(Continued…)

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