Head Coach Al Golden says Miami's effort against Kansas State clearly wasn't good enough.
Jacory Harris walked into the interview room, taking a seat on the floor. He leaned back, closed his eyes and covered his head in his right hand for what seemed like forever.
One more yard would have changed everything.
"That's the game of football," Harris said.
That was the case Saturday, anyway. Harris' fourth-and-goal rollout from the Kansas State 1 was stopped by Tre Walker with just under a minute to play, sealing the Wildcats' 28-24 win over the Hurricanes.
In a game with 809 combined yards of offense, a couple of inches made all the difference for Miami. And whatever the formula was in the Hurricanes' 24-6 win over Ohio State a week ago could not be replicated on Saturday, when Miami lost for the fifth time in its last six games dating back to last season.
"A disappointing loss," said Miami coach Al Golden, whose team trailed by 11 points twice before rallying to take a fourth-quarter, short-lived lead. "I thought we fought and were competitive. We never looked out of it. We were fighting back but it was not good enough to win."
Walker almost personally saw to that.
As Harris rolled left in a sweeping arc on that final play, Walker shadowed him at full speed. He caught him around the 1, grabbing him by the shoulders and driving his knee into the grass a few inches short of the end zone. Replays made it clear, and the ruling on the field that Harris had scored was correctly overturned.
"I knew he was down but I don't think I was that sure," Walker said. "When I saw they put their hands up, I said no, I couldn't believe it. I thought he was down."
John Hubert ran for 166 yards and the go-ahead touchdown for the Wildcats (3-0). Collin Klein passed for two scores and ran for another for Kansas State.
"I'm proud of them for a lot of reasons," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "It wasn't just that play — but to have that stand down there was really special."
Harris threw for 272 yards and two touchdowns for Miami (1-2), which got 106 yards and a touchdown from Lamar Miller. On those final four plays, Miami had a first-down pass fall incomplete, saw two Mike James runs stopped — Miller was dealing with a bad shoulder — and then Harris came up short on the final try.
"We have no one to blame but ourselves," Golden said.
It was the 145th time in the last 150 games where Kansas State won when leading at halftime, and the Wildcats earned this one.
Miller's 59-yard touchdown run with 2:52 left in the third quarter got Miami within 21-17, and Harris found Travis Benjamin with a 34-yard scoring pass 43 seconds into the fourth quarter to give Miami a three-point lead.
Bolstered by a 47-yard run by Hubert on third-and-1 — Miami was in something akin to goal-line defense, with just about everyone on the line of scrimmage 70 yards from its own end zone — Kansas State went 80 yards on eight plays. Hubert's burst from 2 yards out capped the drive, putting Miami in need of late heroics.
Harris almost delivered.
"Never did I think that we weren't going to push it in," Harris said.
Klein finished with 93 yards rushing for Kansas State, which won despite being outgained 411-398. His arms bloodied from a few scrapes with the Florida Marlins' infield dirt, Klein completed 12 of 18 passes for 133 yards.
"I'm just glad we were able to hang on as an offense and hang on as a defense down the stretch," Klein said.
And as for the number of cuts he had?
"I don't know if I can count them up for you," Klein said.
Harris completed 21 of 31 passes, and Benjamin caught six balls for 91 yards to lead Miami.
Klein set the tone on the first possession, leading K-State 63 yards on 11 plays and going in from 2 yards out to give the Wildcats a 7-3 lead with 5:57 left in the first quarter. He was a perfect 6-for-6 passing for 80 yards in the first quarter — against a Miami defense that in four quarters against Ohio State last week allowed four completed passes for 35 yards.
Klein connected with Tyler Lockett from 20 yards out with 13:28 left in the half, and the Wildcats were up 14-3. But his feet did more damage to Miami than anything else in the first half.
The Wildcats committed penalties on four consecutive plays midway through the second quarter — holding on a completed pass, then two false starts sandwiched around a delay of game while Miami linebacker Sean Spence waved his arms to incite more noise from the decidedly less-than-full stadium. After John Hubert was stuffed on an option pitch, Kansas State faced 2nd-and-29 from its own 3.
Just when it seemed like Miami was ready to grab some momentum, Klein took over.
A 26-yard scamper while taking off from his own end zone on second down, followed by a 13-yard run on the next play, got Kansas State near midfield and averted disaster.
"Their quarterback played exceptional," Golden said. "Got to give Kansas State credit."
In the second half, so did his own quarterback. Harris was 11 of 13 for 191 yards after halftime, but it was the final yard that he lamented at the end.