Last weekend, the FCS/I-AA Sacramento State Hornets turned a $425k “body bag” football game at Oregon State in to the biggest win in their program’s history. Up 14-3 at the half, and 21-6 after 3 quarters, Sac was in control of much of the game. OSU however found a running game in the 4th and quickly tied things up 21-21. With time expiring, and a chip shot field goal by OSU’s Kevin Romaine as the final play of regulation, victory seemed to have yielded to the Beavers. That was until the ball hit the upright and fell helplessly back to the field. An unbelievable miss which sent the game in to overtime. Opportunity knocks.
In OT, the Beavers went on offense first and took only two plays to find the end zone. Down seven, Sac then took their shot and marched in for a TD and six points as well. Opportunity knocks.
With his Hornet team wearing out against a deeper Beaver team, yet riding high on an effective offense, head coach Marshall Sperbeck laid all his team’s chips on the table and decided to go for two. If the Hornets don’t score, then they would have still made a solid showing in a game they were supposed to lose anyways. Make it, and they’ve made football history. The pieces had fallen in to place, and set up for this incredible opportunity… For the two, Jeff Flemming lobbed a pass in to the corner of the end zone that was snared by a falling Bradyn Reed. Victory!
Since Sac State athletics moved up to Division 1 in 1991, the Hornets football program has found only sporadic success. Occassional flashes of hope have been overshadowed by generally lackluster win-loss records, giving fans little to truly get excited about.
Since the win though, Hornet football has enjoyed a mini-renaissance. Sac State has seen rekindled demand for season tickets. They jumped up several spots in FCS polls to #12, their highest ranking ever. Their next road game against a good Southern Utah team was recently announced to be televised in the Sacramento market. National media sources have given Hornet football more love and attention than they have in years, including a shout out on ESPN’s SportsCenter’s Top Plays of the Day.
For major college programs, much of this might seem trite; but, to an up and coming program such as the Hornets, they are valuable rewards for seizing a rare opportunity.
Regardless of who or what you are, life periodically gives you special chances. Sometimes you see them coming, while others pop up out of the blue. How you embrace them can have great signifigance in your life, with the results being amplified many times over. So the next time a ball hits the upright in your life and gives you a second chance, be sure to think carefully about what your next play will be. It might just be the victory you need.