DURHAM, N.C. – The Miami (Fla.) players kept chucking the ball back and forth, trying to stay upright, to somehow keep the game going just long enough to make something magical happen.
And then it did.
Call it a Miami miracle. Even if it's one that's going to be vigorously debated for a long time.
Corn Elder took the Hurricanes' eighth lateral of a wild final kickoff return back for a touchdown to give Miami an unbelievable 30-27 victory over No. 22 Duke on Saturday night.
"It was kind of like, just keep playing. Just keep playing," Miami interim coach Larry Scott said. "We used a joke earlier in the week about it being like a playground, about it being kind of like recess. And you know what? How about that? That's what it kind of turned into — a kids' game."
Thomas Sirk seemingly had given Duke (6-2, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) a victory by scoring on a sneak with 6 seconds left.
But in a final sequence reminiscent of California's unforgettable run through the Stanford band in 1982, Elder caught the last of eight laterals, and zigged and zagged through the Duke coverage team for the score.
"You know … we just wanted to keep the ball alive," a bewildered Elder said. "You never practice these moments. We talked about it, but we never really practiced it. We had a bunch of playmakers, and we made a play."
One problem: A penalty flag thrown on teammate Mark Walton for an illegal block in the back on Breon Borders at the Duke 25.
After a lengthy review, the officials announced that the block was to Borders' side — not his back — and the touchdown stood.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe said it was never explained to him what exactly was under review. Messages seeking clarification from ACC officials were not immediately returned late Saturday night.
It capped a tumultuous week for the Hurricanes (5-3, 2-2). Coach Al Golden was fired after the program suffered its worst loss in school history, 58-0 to Clemson a week earlier.