Millsaps Majors are 9-0 — and believing
Undefeated Millsaps College was down 21-10 with 2 minutes, 47 seconds remaining this past Saturday, and that’s not all.
Millsaps, which had scored only 10 points all afternoon, was 11 points down with only two timeouts remaining.
Final score: Millsaps 28, Centre 27. The Majors advanced to 9-0 and within one last victory of a perfect regular season and a Division III playoffs berth.
“Never,” Majors coach Aaron Pelch answered, when asked if had been part of such a huge comeback in such a small time frame.
“You might coach in that situation 15 or 20 times in your career,” Pelch said. “I’m guessing, given that situation, you might win one of 20, if that. Our guys did it. I couldn’t be more proud.”
The most amazing facet to Pelch came when he surveyed his sidelines at that moment when the Majors were 11 down with less than three minutes to play and Centre had the ball.
“Nobody’s head was down,” Pelch said. “Our guys were excited. They still believed they could win. They expected to win.”
Winning begets winning, just as losing begets losing. Teams , which usually win, expect to win, no matter the circumstance. The opposite is true.
Still, Pelch couldn’t have scripted what occurred over the next few minutes.
First, the Majors blitzed three safeties on first down. Two of them, Semmes White and Alex Johnson, hit the runner at the Colonel 33, jarring the ball loose. A third, Nick Arnold, snagged the loose ball and took it to the Centre 5-yard line.
Three plays later, on fourth down, quarterback Zak Thrasher scored from two yards out. That made it 21-16, Centre. Pelch, no dummy, went for two. Thrasher, clutch again, hit Calvin Shaw with a 2-point conversion pass to make it 21-18 with under two minutes to go.
All the while, Pelch had his special teams getting ready for the onsides kick. Beau Brady’s kick was a beauty, bouncing just right at just the right time. Millsaps blockers cleared the way for Zander Romano, the Majors’ top receiver, to snatch the ball and give the Majors possession at midfield with 1:50 remaining.
By now, the Millsaps sideline was in a frenzy. So was the home crowd. The Majors drove to the Centre 22 before stalling. Brady, clutch again, nailed a 39-yard field goal to tie it and send it to overtime.
If the Majors expected to win before, they knew they would win in overtime.
And they did. Thrasher hit a touchdown pass and Brady kicked the point-after to make it 28-21, Majors. Centre, which never gave up either, then scored to make it 28-27 and, on the road, elected to go for the two-point conversion and the win. Again, safety Semmes White blitzed off the edge. Centre ran the option. White forced the quarterback to pitch and then he and Mitchell Keith pushed the Centre running back out of bounds at the seven.
Unbelievably, except to the Majors themselves, Millsaps had won.
Millsaps will try to cap an undefeated regular season when they play at long-time rival Rhodes College in Memphis Saturday. Rhodes, 7-2, has only one conference loss and will play to share the title with Millsaps.
Pelch believes the Majors must win to get into the playoffs. He also believes his players believe they will do just that. After Saturday, they would have to believe.