Even Jefferson-Pilot, televising the game, had already flashed the score as a final:
That was the backdrop at
That's when Devery Henderson entered Tiger folklore by being, more or less, in the right place at the right time on a classic "last play" call – one that never once worked in months of LSU practices.
The play – Dash, Right, 93
As he raced downfield,
Prayers are sometimes answered to our satisfaction, and this one was.
The pigskin missile launched by
quarterback Marcus Randall, who let loose with all the arm strength he had, was
in the air for 68 yards. When the ball finally came down in the blur of blue,
white, and gold colors, safety Quentus Cumby got a finger on it before it
slipped through the fingers of linebacker
* * *
"I'm still asked about it all the
time," Henderson, now a receiver with the New Orleans Saints, said with a smile
at the memory, "especially when I'm around a lot of LSU fans, or if I'm home (in
LSU returns to
"Yeah, I kind of thought about it
when I saw the Tigers were playing there,"
"What made it work was just
instinct and natural reaction than me thinking about what was going on,"
The pile consisted of
* * *
Somewhat lost in the retelling of
"The Bluegrass Miracle" is the fact that
Early in the second quarter, with
Still, a lot of things had to fall into place, though, for the theatrics to take place. The first was a late fourth-quarter coaching gaffe by Guy Morriss, who did not allow the clock to run completely down when he sent out Taylor Begley to kick a 29-yard field goal to break a 27-27 deadlock. Instead, after Begley's successful kick, there were 15 crucial seconds remaining.
This is what separates football miracles from routine game-ending plays: The ensuing kickoff was returned by Henderson, who intentionally ran out of bounds at the LSU 13 with nine seconds left to save time.
"Just the way he was coached," Fisher said. After a delay of game penalty, Randall hit Michael Clayton for 17 yards at the 25. "He didn't even try to gain more yards," Fisher said. "He just stepped out of bounds as soon as he made the catch with enough time for one play. It was a long-shot, of course, but up to this point we played things perfectly."
The clock was stopped with those two precious seconds left.
That turned out to be all LSU needed to pull off, if not the impossible, then certainly the improbable.
"I was appreciative most of all of
what it allowed me to do,"
The Bluegrass Miracle won an ESPY as the Play of the Year in all of sports in 2002.
"It was special,"
"I didn't bring her on stage; she just walked up. I want everyone to know, I was up there and looked back and there she was."
* * *
What that game did, aside from creating a memorable moment in LSU football annals, was make a treasure trove of quotes for sportswriters.
Two thousand miles away, another
noted Tiger athlete was talking about
Then-LSU linebackers coach Kirk
Doll quipped in the locker room afterward, "The first thing I'm going to do when
I get back to
Henderson himself echoed what football coaches have told him all his life: "I guess it all goes to prove that football is a 60-minute game."
Marty Mule' can be reached at MJM981@Bellsouth.net.