(Photo courtesy of Old Dominion Athletics)

That feeling we had against Virginia Tech? We actually had that same feeling three times last year.

The second time came a month later, when we were part of one of the most ridiculous finishes I've ever seen. We were down 34-27 against Western Kentucky, and we had a 4th and 2 on our own 29 yard line with just 41 seconds to go. We ran the ball to simply get the first down, but then we only had 34 seconds remaining, and 68 more yards to go. Well after two long completions, we suddenly found ourselves down to the 6-yard-line with 12 seconds left!

On the next play I threw a slant pass to my receiver to tie the game at 34-34. At that point I think everybody on both teams was getting ready for overtime...of course, as it turned out, we wouldn't even need it.

WKU took the ball down to their 45-yard line, only to see time expire. Except it hadn't. A late hit on their quarterback gave them a chance to kick a game-winning field goal. And even though that untimed down resulted in a missed kick, we had put 12 men on the field. That gave WKU a second untimed down. And another missed kick.

This time we had put Isaiah Harper, one of our fastest guys, underneath the crossbar, and he nearly returned the missed kick back for a touchdown. But when he was tackled at the 15-yard-line of Western Kentucky, then that was surely it. Overtime. Except for one little detail - the refs noticed he was grabbed by his facemask, which led to a third untimed down. And this time, we made the most of it.

Nick Rice's kick sailed through the uprights, and we had just pulled off a win nearly as improbable as Virginia Tech.


Those two wins showed us that anything is possible in football, which is probably why when we trailed North Texas 28-0 late in the season, we still thought we could win. The best thing I can say about my teammates was that we were delusional. Even with that type of deficit, we still thought we could win.

It was just like Virginia Tech....Even when you get knocked down, you come right back up. That goes for life too.

We added a touchdown and field goal just before to get within 28-10 at halftime, and from there we just started to chip away, one drive at a time.

As I took the field for the last time and looked at the scoreboard, we were down 34-31 with 3:22 to go. Down, but not out. We faced a pair of fourth downs on the drive, but just kept battling. We converted both of them, and with 50 seconds left we had a first and goal at the North Texas 4-yard line.

The first play got us to the 1-yard line, and the second play was stopped for no gain. Now with 18 seconds left and just a yard away we called a timeout. I think everyone was expecting me to pass, so when I handed the ball off to Lala Davis, he had a clear path toward the end zone. And just like that, we had pulled off the third miraculous finish in one season.

It's those types of moments that made leaving football so confusing for everyone.

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Thomas Hager