Thirty years ago today, the Terrapin football team trudged off the field in disgust after the trash-talking and defending national champion Miami Hurricanes ran out to an embarrassing 31-0 halftime lead. Everything was going wrong for the Terps, who looked both physically and emotionally defeated. Looking for a spark, Coach Bobby Ross sent quarterback Frank Reich in to replace Stan Gelbaugh to start the second half. What happened next would become one of Maryland’s most memorable sports moments. Reich led the team to six second-half touchdowns, as the Terps devastated the Hurricanes 42-40 for what was then the greatest comeback in Division I football history.
Any large comeback win takes a certain amount of grit and determination, but often times it cannot be accomplished without a few big breaks going the team’s way. Maryland’s biggest breaks came in the fourth quarter. After fighting back to make the score 34-28, with five and a half minutes left, Reich launched a pass that deflected off a Miami safety’s hands and into the hands of receiver Greg Hill who proceeded to run it in for a touchdown. Miami fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Maryland recovered and scored once again. The Terps led by a score of 42-34 before Miami scored one more late game touchdown. Maryland denied Miami’s 2-point conversion attempt to secure the victory.
Reich would equal the record-setting feat nine years later in the NFL, leading the Buffalo Bills back from 32 points down to defeat the Houston Oilers in the 1993 playoffs.
As for the Terrapins, their reward for winning the game was no practice when they returned home!
You can watch all of the footage from Maryland’s Miracle in Miami here.