Florida Football Countdown
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2014 at 11:55 p.m.
17 ... Yards covered on “The Catch” by James Jones against Miami in 1982.
When Florida and Miami hooked up to open the 1982 season, it was a new Florida Field. The south end zone expansion had been completed and a record crowd of 71,864 was on hand in the blistering heat.
They would see one of the signature plays in Florida history.
It was a game of big hits and mistakes. There were four turnovers in the first eight minutes. Once both teams settled down, Florida struggled to get much going on offense and Miami finally took the lead with 5:50 left in the game on a 4-yard touchdown run by Mark Rush.
Down 14-10, Florida drove into Miami territory only to see the drive end on a fourth-down play that was stuffed by the Miami defense. When the Gators got the ball back, Wayne Peace made some big throws to receiver Dwayne Dixon to give Florida a chance to win it.
It was second-and-8 at the 17 when Peace called for a naked bootleg. The pass was supposed to go to tight end Mike Mularkey, but he was covered. Jones was open in the flat, but Peace didn't see him at first.
Jones turned and ran up the field and while the Miami defense concentrated on Dixon and Mularkey, the fullback was wide open. Peace lofted a wobbler toward Jones, who made a backward, one-handed falling catch, one coach Charley Pell would later call “a Willie Mays deluxe.”
Jones appeared to fall short of the goal line, but the officials called it a touchdown and this was before instant replay. The Gators won 17-14.