Syracuse salvages unbeaten season, 1987: Matt's Memo

Dick MacPherson cheers on the team in 1987 unbeaten season.

It was the greatest football among many in the history of Syracuse's Carrier Dome. The unbeaten Syracuse Orange had driven the length of the field under the lead of Heisman Trophy runner up Don McPherson. He tied the game with a pass to tight end Pat kelly. Syracuse still trailed West Virginia by one point with 10 seconds remaining.

Coach Dick MacPherson could kick the extra point and earn a tie. The fans were chanting "two, two, two". In 1987 there was no overtime. Kicker Tim Vesling remained on the sidelines. It was the classic all or nothing bet. McPherson takes the snap and runs the option. He skips future Dallas Cowboy Super Bowl champion full back Darryl Johnston. The QB runs left with half back Michael Owens trailing. At the optimum moment McPherson pitches to Owens who zips past the final Mountaineer defender. The Dome surely lifted in the air that night.

The crazed fans sustained a five minute deafening ovation. Everyone was hugging, smiling, clapping and screaming. Each of the nearly 50,000 ticket holders enjoyed nearly the same rush of adrenalin as the players who closed the deal.

I listened on the radio as I returned to Binghamton from Springfield, Mass. Earlier that day the Orange basketball squad had opened the season fresh off the season ending Keith Smart jumper in New Orleans. The radio broadcast with Doug Logan and Jim Ridlon is epic.

I also recall my father, a longtime season ticket holder, recovering from an Autumn where he survived a frightening infection. He had missed virtually every game of the season, but returned to adequate health in time to be present in the Dome that night. Talk about a taste of what the doctor ordered.

Next week we mark 25 years since this game. It replayed on Time Warner Cable tonight. It's so dramatic I could hardly believe the Orange would pull it out even though I was certain of the outcome.

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