Favre’s Hail Mary carries Southern Miss past Louisville

Southern Miss at Louisville, Louisville, KY
October 14, 1989

The Miracle of Louisville: Favre’s Hail Mary (VIDEO)

Brett Favre was a star at Southern Miss before becoming a Hall of Fame quarterback with the Green Bay Packers. (Courtesy of Southern Miss Athletics)

The Legend of Brett Favre was just getting started in 1989.

Favre became a standout athlete playing for his father Irvin Favre on Hancock North Central High School’s football team in Kiln, Mississippi. Nevertheless, his only scholarship offer was to Southern Miss just a little more than an hour north of his hometown.

Southern Miss wanted Favre to play defensive back, but Favre wanted be a quarterback and entered his freshman season in 1987 as the seventh-string signal-caller. By the second half of the third game, he had officially moved up to the starting position, and he would hold the starting role throughout the rest of his career in Hattiesburg until the end of the 1990 season.

There were many highlights along the way, but none greater than the last-minute Hail Mary he would deliver on October 14, 1989, on the road at Louisville during his junior season. Favre’s Golden Eagles had battled Louisville to a 10-all stalemate when the Cardinals lined up for a late field goal to win the game. The field goal was blocked by Vernard Collins, however, giving Southern Miss the ball instead with one last chance to win it.

Favre took the snap and rolled right while fighting off Cardinals defensive end Ted Washington. He gathered himself near the sideline around his own 10-yard line before letting the ball fly. It was tipped by Southern Miss wide receiver Michael Jackson near Louisville’s 35-yard line before falling into the hands of fellow receiver Darryl Tillman who took it the distance for a game-winning touchdown as time expired.

By today’s standards, Favre’s statistics at Southern Miss were modest that year – just 2,588 yards passing with 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 1989 – but his penchant for dramatic scores and big wins throughout his career against marquee opponents like Mississippi State, Florida State, Alabama and Auburn earned him plenty of attention from NFL draft scouts. He was drafted in the second round of the 1991 draft with the 33rd overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons before being traded to the Green Bay Packers the following year. He eventually retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in wins, passing attempts, completions and passing yards.

Southern Miss fans, however, still remember the brash young quarterback who roamed the sidelines in Hattiesburg. And they’ll never forget the afternoon he delivered the Miracle of Louisville.


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