Quincy Crittendon was ready to make a big play, like the one he made last Saturday afternoon in a historic double overtime victory over Mercer at Seibert Stadium.
To be honest, very few people outside the Samford football program knew that he was ready. Or, to be more accurate, no one outside the Bulldogs program knew that.
But he was definitely ready.
Crittendon is a 5-foot-10, 190-pound redshirt freshman quarterback from Austin High in Decatur. He was a high school playmaker, both on the football field and basketball court, who led the Black Bears to playoff appearances in his final two football seasons. After high school, he walked on at Samford and began his college career down the depth chart.
He played on the scout team last season and opened spring drills competing with junior Cade Blackmon to perhaps be the third quarterback behind junior college transfer Michael Hiers and Kentucky transfer Nik Scalzo.
“Quincy, he was thrust into the backup role back in the summertime, really back in the spring, when Nik Scalzo went down with an injury,” said Samford head coach Chris Hatcher. “Him and Cade Blackmon were switching out, and then Cade got hurt.”
Scalzo was ready to go at the start of fall camp. However, he was lost for the season a couple of practices into the preseason work. Hiers was clearly the starter, and, suddenly, Crittendon was clearly the backup.
“He’s been getting all the [No. 2 reps], and the guy, he performs well,” Hatcher said. “We’re sitting there watching film after every practice, and I go, ‘This guy is getting better and better and better.’ He was ready.”
Crittendon played a little bit against Georgia and Western Carolina. In the loss to the Bulldogs, he was 3-of-5 for 47 yards and carried the ball twice for nine yards.
Then, on Saturday, at a critical time in one of the most important games of what has been a magical season for the Bulldogs, Crittendon had to play. There was one slight problem when Hiers got banged up, and Crittendon trotted on the field after Mercer’s field goal attempt was blocked on the first possession of the second overtime.
“The only thing that concerned me, whatsoever, is we’ve been going at this since August, and he has been playing lights out at practice,” Hatcher said, laughing at the memory. “Last week was maybe the worst week of practice he’s had since he’s been a Samford Bulldog. That crossed my mind when I had to throw him in there. I thought, ‘Of all the weeks, man, you had to have it this week.’”
Crittendon threw a pass to Chandler Smith for no gain on his first play. The rest is what Hatcher called a “storybook ending.”
On the next play, Crittendon dropped back, like he was looking to pass, before he tucked the football in his arm and headed upfield. Twenty-five yards later, he fell into the end zone to give Samford the walk-off win.
“He’s a confident player,” said Hatcher, whose team has a first-round bye in the NCAA playoffs. “If you watch us practice, our players are confident in his abilities. Fortunately, we caught them in the right defense, we picked up three unbelievable blocks, and he did the rest. It was really special, and special a little bit to me as well, because his brother [Lamont] played for me at Murray State. I have a history with the family. To see him go in there and do that and see how excited the guys were for him and how excited Mike [Hiers]was for him made it even sweeter.”
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