Minutes before Howard was to meet Virginia State for the 20th time in the 62-year history of their series; a former Trejan player, Sgt. Dennis Carter, parachuted into Rogers Stadium with the game ball and landed right at mid-field.
Howard, caught dragging in the first three quarters, discovered an air route of its own and rallied to defeat Virginia State, 27-21.
"We did so many things wrong, it was unbelievable," said Howard Coach Doug Porter, with a sigh of relief. "We even did things that came as a complete surprise to us."
One surprise was a sudden dash by Eisen punter Howard Ward on fourth and two at the Howard 40 Trojan Kevin Burden wrapped up Ward at his 38. Virginia State took over and scored five plays later to move ahead, 20-7, with 11-13 left in the third period.
"The snap went wide and I thought I saw some room to run," explained Ward "I was supposed to kick and I made the decision to run strictly on my own. The hole closed quick."
At this point, many in the home-coming crowd had begun to anticipate Virginia State's first victory over Howard in eight years. State was out-playing the Bisom and had not lost the ball once.
But the Trojans had committed 41 turnovers in their first six games, and the law of averages - and the Bison offense - took over.
"We suddendly forgot that in football the object is to knock people down," said irate Virginia State Coach Tom Morris. "They didn't stop us as much as we stopped ourselves."
Howard limited State to 30 yards the rest of the game.
And, toward the end of the third period, Virginia State gambled on a fourth down, trying a pass from its 23. It didn't work and Howard took over at that spot.
Eight plays later, Bison quarterback Ronald Wilson, who had replaced Brian Thomas, fired a fourth-down 13-yard strike to Fitz Fowler. Ward's kick was blocked but the Bison trailed only 20-13.
A bad snap to the punter on Virginia State's next series gave Howard excellent field position at the Trojan 37. Beeman Veasley ran for a yard, when Wilson found Steve Wilson alone in the right sideline and the flanker sped to the one before being knocked out of bounds.
Ronald Wilson scored on a sneak and Ward kicked the extra point to the game at 20 with 14-46 to play.
"The defence was doing the job in the second half. And Ron came in and did a good job," said Porter. "We had to hide a few injuries and that dictated the type of plays we had to run."
On Howard's next three series, which began at the VSC 30, its own 28 and the host 47, the Bison offense looked stagnant. Both teams seemed ready to settle for a tie and traded punts.
The fourth time the Bison got the ball, this time at the Trojan 38, they got serious. Beasley sprinted off tackle 33 yards to the five and Cornelsius Quarles barreled over untouched to put Howard ahead for the first time, 26-20. Ward's kick was perfect and the Bison had to hang on for just 2-49 for their second straight win that would raise their record to 2-3.
Virginia State, now 2-5 began a last-ditch march from its 25. Two plays later, Trojan Darrell Chandler fumbled and Thomas Clark recovered for Howard.
"The way we played, I'm just happy to get out of here with a wiz," said Porter. "We showed a little something in coming back."
Howard, which has yet to get off to a good start this year, fell behind in a hurry. VSC, with Chandler and George Leonard doing the heavy work between the tackles, moved 66 yards on seven plays for its first touchdown. Maurice Banks threw to Tom Brown for the final 28 yards with 43 seconds left in the opening period.
Midway in the second period, defensive end Kurt Benjamin batted a Brian Thomas pass right to teammate Marshall Jones, who raced 38 yards for a score and a 13-0 Trojan lead.
Greg Scott took the ensuing kickoff 84 yards to the Trojan 12. Beasley blasted up the middle and was hit by Jones just as he was about to step in the end zone. The ball came loose and cornerback Layard Banks recovered for a touchback.