LAFAYETTE (KATC) — Saturday Billy Napier will return to Boone, NC for the first time in 16 years. The first time since his name became part of one of college football most improbable wins.
The year was 2002. The game, a I-AA match-up in the SoCon between Furman and Appalachian State.
Billy Napier, then the Furman quarterback, was marching the Paladins down the field, trying to set up a game winning score down 14-9. With seven seconds left Napier hit Bear Rinehart for a go ahead touchdown. Furman leads 15-14.
A successful PAT would give Bobby Lamb’s team a 2-point lead. Instead the coach calls in a pass play as Furman tries to extend the lead to three.
Napier dropped back, fires and is intercepted. Josh Jeffries played one season in the NFL, but his interception of Napier on the two-point try will forever be what he’s known by. Jeffries lateraled the ball to Derek Black and watched the defensive back do the rest. Black took the ball more than 80-yards for 2-points, and the difference in Appalachian State’s 16-15 victory over Furman.
“What a strange twist of emotions,” Billy Napier said Wednesday reflecting on a game. “I don’t think you ever get over those. I hate to lose, no matter what the score. I think every time you lose you don’t forget. I can tell you about them all, player and coach… If we had that here we’d be talking about it. It was a great football game and heck of a play by that young man.”
Saturday Louisiana plays Appalachian State. Billy Napier has not returned to Boone since 2002. Kickoff is set for 2:30 on ESPN+.