The Gator Flop: 40 years ago

November, 27, 2011
11/27/11
12:56
PM ET
In the storied rivalry that once was Florida vs. Miami, "The Gator Flop" was a game that will always be remembered.

Forty years later, the test of time is proven as ESPN's Page 2 story by Paul Lukas recaptures the stories behind that memorable game. Here's the recap:
In case you don't know the story, here's the short version: Miami and Florida were both having miserable seasons when they squared off at the Orange Bowl for the final game of the 1971 season. But the game still had plenty of juice -- in part because of the schools' longtime rivalry and in part because Florida quarterback John Reaves needed 343 passing yards to break Jim Plunkett's NCAA career passing record of 7,544 yards.

With time winding down and Florida winning by a lopsided score of 45-8, Reaves was still 10 yards shy of the record. Miami had the ball and was slowly driving for a meaningless touchdown -- too slowly for Florida's taste. Fearing that time might expire before Reaves could get the ball back, the Florida defense repeatedly called timeout. But Miami kept creeping down the field.

That's when the Florida defense played its trump card: As Miami snapped the ball from the Florida 8-yard line, the Gators players fell down on the job -- literally. They simply flopped to the ground, giving Miami quarterback John Hornibrook an uncontested touchdown.

A few minutes later, Reaves got his record by completing a pass to Carlos Alvarez as time expired. But the Miami players were incensed, and so was Canes coach Fran Curci, who called the incident "the worst thing I have ever seen in football."

The story, originally published on Sept. 16, 2010 as part of Page 2's Behind the Highlights series, includes video of the game and plenty of stories from the men who were there.

Florida and Miami last played in 2008. The teams are slated to meet again in 2013.

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