Sometimes having been around the block lets you know what’s coming at you from down the street.
The grip Senquez Golson and his Ole Miss teammates had on an upset of No. 1 Alabama was alarmingly loose as the Crimson Tide marched toward a go-ahead touchdown.
Ole Miss was pitching a 13-0 shutout in the fourth quarter, but the Rebels left the comeback door open when Andrew Fletcher’s extra point was blocked with 2 minutes, 54 seconds remaining.
Alabama had moved from its 13 to the Ole Miss 32 with 37 seconds remaining.
It was time for the Crimson Tide to take a shot, and took it with tight end O.J. Howard, who was seven inches taller than Golson.
“The second or third quarter they had a big play that was the same as the interception. Your freshman and sophomore year you don’t think about it that way,” said Golson, then a senior, “but that game, that play, when they threw that ball and completed that pass I knew they would come back to it.”
Indeed they did.
Golson timed his leap and came down with the interception in bounds, and Ole Miss needed Bo Wallace to kneel down just once before fans stormed the field and tore down the goalposts.
Golson had 10 interceptions in an All-America season in 2014.
Alabama was ranked No. 1 in the ESPN coaches poll, No. 3 in the AP Top 25. It lost in the semifinals to Ohio State that season, the first for the college football playoff.
Ole Miss finished the season 9-4 and played in the Peach Bowl, the first of back-to-back New Years Six bowl games.
The Alabama win and all others in 2014 have been vacated because of NCAA sanctions, but the memories remain.
Golson was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round with the 56th overall pick the following spring.
He was injured a shoulder that preseason, tore ligaments in his foot the next and never played in an NFL game.
However, he did invest with his signing bonus and now lives in his hometown of Pascagoula where he operates a commercial cleaning business with three locations.
“It’s a bad time for the world but a good time for me with the business rolling,” he said. “A lot of people are reaching out for the chemicals I can get to, the extra cleaning I can bring. I’m just trying to do everything I can to help.”
Golson appeared in 42 games over his Ole Miss career, and his experience paid off in the final seconds against Alabama.
“The field was flipped, but it was the same formation, the same everything,” he said.
He had studied the Crimson Tide during the week, paying particular attention to their top receiver, Amari Cooper.
He believed he knew what play Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin – now the Ole Miss coach – would call by how Cooper lined up.
Ole Miss free safety Cody Prewitt correctly read his keys and was in position to take away the underneath option for Alabama quarterback Blake Sims.
When Howard started barreling toward the end zone all the was left was execution.
“We were in the perfect play call. I saw the tight end go up the field, and I just put my head down and ran,” Golson said.
Ole Miss players and fans had to survive video replay before they could celebrate. Had the call been reversed Alabama would have faced third-and-13.
Golson wasn’t sure he had come down in the field of play.
“Man, it was a crazy feeling. I can’t really describe it. Once everybody started coming on the field things started moving in slow motion. You’re thinking, ‘Did we really just beat Alabama?’ and you look at the scoreboard and yeah, you did.”