Saturday, January 4, 2003

Miami QB struggles in final game

The Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. - Ken Dorsey sat in his locker stall with a towel draped over his head and tears rolling down his face.

He took a few seconds to gather his emotions, then became his toughest critic. It was the first time the Miami quarterback didn't try to defend himself this season.

Ohio State photos
"This is something you just can't describe," Dorsey said after the Hurricanes lost 31-24 in double overtime to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. "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."

The senior, who spent much of the season defending his deficiencies despite helping the top-ranked Hurricanes reach a second consecutive national championship game.

Dorsey struggled in the loss to the second-ranked Buckeyes that ended the Hurricanes' 34-game winning streak.

Dorsey gave Miami a 7-0 lead in the first quarter with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Roscoe Parrish, but threw two interceptions, fumbled once and was sacked four times.

Dorsey had a chance to tie the game in the second overtime, but he left the game after a hit by 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 from the 1-yard line - Cie Grant pressured Dorsey and he threw a floating pass incomplete 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."

Dorsey dropped to his knees for several seconds, then trudged off the field with his helmet on and eyes staring at the ground. Then he started crying, along with many of his teammates.

"It's pretty tough to swallow," guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli said. "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 the game 17-17 on a 40-yard field goal by Todd Sievers on the final play of regulation.

Dorsey, who was 28-of-43 for 296 yards, got the Hurricanes the lead in the first overtime with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Winslow.

Ohio State stacked the line of scrimmage all game, shutting down Willis McGahee and forcing Dorsey to beat the Buckeyes with the pass.

He failed, and on college football's biggest stage.

"They just executed their game plan better than us," Dorsey said.

Dorsey ended his career 38-2 as a starter, losing for the first time since September 2000 against Washington.

The critics said: Dorsey lacks arm strength, accuracy and mobility; has average numbers and is surrounded by so much talent that just about anyone could run Miami's offense; and not only is he far from the best player in the country, he's not even the best player in his own backfield.

Ohio State seemed to think so, too. The Buckeyes focused on McGahee, who finished with 67 yards on 20 carries after leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury.

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 always has made his No. 1 priority.

"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."

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