March, 20 2023
A quarterback perceived to not have much zip on his throws went Beyond the Call as he completed five precise passes in the second half of a classic encounter between top five rivals. Sophomore Steve Walsh had the unenviable task of following the strong-armed trio of Jim Kelly, Bernie Kosar and Vinny Testaverde when the third-ranked Hurricanes travelled to Doak Campbell Stadium to battle fourth-ranked Florida State.
A native of St. Paul, MN making just his third collegiate start, Walsh was shaky for most of this sunny day in Tallahassee. Walsh completed just six of sixteen passes in three-and-a-half quarters of play as Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles built a 19-3 lead. Shaking the bad start off, Walsh became unstoppable over the final eighteen minutes. Walsh began the comeback with a 49-yard strike to Melvin Bratton, who caught the perfect pass in stride over the middle. Miami coach Jimmy Johnson elected to go for two and Walsh hit receiver Brian Blades in the corner despite tight coverage by FSU’s Martin Mayhew. This brought the score to 19-11 as the third quarter expired.
On his next scoring pass, Walsh released the ball off his back foot to avoid blitzing Seminole linebacker Shelton Thompson. He had just enough zip on the ball to hit Michael Irvin for a 26-yard touchdown. Johnson again elected to go for two and Walsh calmly hit Warren Williams to tie the score 19-19 with 11:30 to play. Walsh saved his best score for last, splitting a Florida State double-team and dropping a perfect pass between Martin Mayhew and Dedrick Dodge to hit Irvin in stride. The fleet Irvin raced down the sideline to complete a 73-yard touchdown to put Miami up 26-19 with just over two minutes remaining. That touchdown proved to be the winning margin as Miami’s Bubba McDowell knocked down a potential game-winning two-point conversion by FSU with forty seconds remaining.
This iconic game featured five College Football Hall of Famers: head coaches Bowden and Johnson, FSU defensive back Deion Sanders, and Miami defenders Bennie Blades (DB) and Russell Maryland (DL). Sanders is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well as Miami receiver Michael Irvin. Other notable professionals were Martin Mayhew (FSU), LeRoy Butler (FSU), Brian Blades (UM) and Steve Walsh. Walsh’s pro career was solid, but he will always be remembered for going Beyond the Call on this day, proving that his supposedly weak arm was more than capable of joining Miami’s pantheon of successful quarterbacks. More than securing his spot as the starter, this game catapulted Walsh and Miami to a 12-0 record and the school’s second national championship.