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Wildest football finish you'll ever see
Oct. 28: Forget Cal vs. Stanford -- wait until you see how Division III Trinity won at Millsaps!
Picture the ending of the Stanford-California game in 1982, without the band and with three times as many laterals.
Trinity University used 15 laterals after a completed pass on the final play of the game for an unlikely touchdown and 28-24 victory Saturday at stunned Millsaps. Call it the “Mississippi Miracle” for the Tigers, an NCAA Division III team in San Antonio.
“Things have to go perfectly for that to work,” coach Steve Mohr told The Associated Press after the Tigers got home Sunday night from Jackson, Miss. “We couldn’t do that against air if we tried.”
There were 2 seconds left, only enough time to snap the ball once, when Trinity (7-1) took over at its own 40.
Blake Barmore dumped a short pass over the middle to a wide-open Shawn Thompson, who gained 16 yards before he ran into a defender and made the first pitch to Riley Curry. Then there was another lateral, and another and another.
Curry got the ball four times, the last after it was bounced off the turf into his hands around the 34 and he sprinted to the end zone. He crossed the goal line 62 seconds after the ball was snapped.
That bounce was the only time the ball touched the ground, and Mohr thinks that actually helped the Tigers.
“Some of the Millsaps players stopped. That created the seam for Curry,” said Mohr, figuring some of the exhausted defenders might have thought it was like an incomplete pass to kill the play. “It was never batted, never touched the ground except the last throw, 14 straight completions.”
California needed only five laterals on its game-ending kickoff return for a touchdown in 1982, when Stanford’s band had stormed the field thinking the game was over.
Seven different Trinity players touched the ball, including two offensive linemen. Josh Hooten, a 266-pound guard, got it twice.
“He caught it and pitched it over his head blindly,” Mohr said. “It was like he caught it and thought he’s not supposed to have it. It was comical.”
The third touch by Curry ended when he pitched back to Tomlin and then Curry wound up on the ground after being tackled. Tomlin ran toward the sideline and got rid of the ball as he went down in a crowd, throwing to Hooten, who quickly pitched to Brandon Maddux.
“The worst part about it is we had five or six guys just quit on the play,” Millsaps coach Mike DuBose, the former Alabama coach, told The (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger. “That type of thing just shouldn’t happen. Sure, we were tired. But so was Trinity. You have to finish the play. We stopped.”
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
But the Majors (6-2) gave the ball back after failing to convert on fourth-and-2.
With the victory, Trinity remained in contention for the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference title and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III playoffs. Millsaps would have clinched the playoff spot by winning.
“This puts us in position to play for something in November,” said Mohr, 143-53 in his 18 seasons at Trinity. “It doesn’t guarantee anything. Our kids understand it, but at least it kept us in the hunt.”
CFT: The Detroit Lions are expected to own and operate their own bowl game at Ford Field, starting play in 2014, according to a report by ESPN.
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