The parachuters had landed, the game ball presented and the coin flipped, and Mercer had the ball first.
Quarterback John Russ took Mercers first snap in decades at his own 45 and unloaded downfield, a long tease that perhaps that first play in decades could be huge?
Talk about air coming out of a figurative balloon.
The first play, for about three days now, was going to be a deep ball, Russ said after Mercers 40-37 win Saturday. I just underthrew him by a yard or so.
Mercers defense gave up a good run to former Jeff Davis standout LJ Stegall on first down, but the defense held and forced a punt, setting in motion a see-saw game.
Big game in town
The defending NCAA Division II champion will be in Macon on Saturday when Valdosta State takes on SIAC runner-up Fort Valley State at Henderson Stadium.
The kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
The game will feature more than a few former Middle Georgia high school standouts.
From Valdosta State: quarterback Kaleb Nobles of Fitzgerald, running back Cedric ONeal of Dublin, wideout R.J. Davis of Fitzgerald, defensive back Brandon Brown of Northside (by way of Albany State), guard Alexander Brock of Vidalia, defensive end Tevin Davis (Mary Persons), defensive tackle Andrew Lauritsen of Warner Robins, tight end Will Johnson of Robert Toombs and quarterback Brian Cape of Howard.
Fort Valley State: defensive back JaBioas Glenn of Dooly County, tight end Renard Williams of Peach County, place-kicker Chris Ward of Southwest, running back Jonquez Sanders of Taylor County, running back Nikilous McDaniels of Northside, linebacker Kelcey Lewis of Peach County, defensive lineman Cody Nash of Central, defensive back Calvin Jackson of Southwest, offensive lineman Michael Brown of Northeast; offensive lineman Brian Cornish of Warner Robins, wideout Jarvis Hart of Westfield, defensive lineman Dion Armstrong of Peach County, defensive lineman Bernard Little of Putnam County and defensive lineman Christopher Thomas of Macon County.
Wideout JT Palmer and place-kicker Josh Shutter are the first Mercer players to rack up conference honors.
The Pioneer Football League named Palmer as the offensive player of the week and Shutter as co-special teams player of the week.
Palmer caught four passes for 70 yards and two touchdowns, both with a high degree of difficulty.
Shutter, in his football debut after a soccer career at Clemson and Mercer, was good on two field goal tries, including the 31-yard game-winner with three seconds left.
Stetsons Donald Payne was the defensive honoree, and place-kicker James LaGamma of Stetson shared the honor with Shutter.
Two Mercer opponents -- Warner and Stetson -- kicked off Saturday about an hour after the Bears and Reinhardt started their game.
They didnt finish until Sunday afternoon, 19 hours after lightning stopped the game Saturday night.
Stetson had scored on the final play Saturday night, with players pulled from the field after the point-after kick 41 minutes into the game.
Then on Warners first snap Sunday, Stetsons Donald Payne recovered a high shotgun snap and took it in for a touchdown as the Hatters rolled to a 31-3 win.
Stetson was in its first game in 57 years, and NAIA program Warner -- as was the case Saturday for Reinhardt -- was in its football debut.
A standing-room only crowd of nearly 6,500 was on hand Saturday night, and while not everybody returned Sunday, the Hatters weekend was certainly as successful as Mercers.
Stetson fans did have two chances to tailgate.
Upsets and stumbles
Seven lower-division programs knocked off full-fledged upper-division programs -- i.e. FCS teams upsetting FBS teams -- in the first full week of college football.
That doesnt include FCS Samford topping first-year FBS Georgia State 31-21 in Atlanta.
Mercer avoided a similar fate as a Division I NCAA program nearly losing to an NAIA team. With both teams in their first games -- in 57 years and ever -- it certainly wouldnt have drawn many headlines had Reinhardt gotten the win.
But there was just such a surprise, and in the PFL, no less, on Thursday.
Grand View cruised across town in Des Moines and knocked off Drake 21-16, becoming the first NAIA team to beat a Division I program since 1980, and sixth overall.
Drake was picked to contend for the PFL title, sharing third with Jacksonville in the conference preseason poll. The Bulldogs shared last seasons championship.
Grand View had lost the three previous meetings, 22-0, 28-21 in overtime and 28-8.
It wasnt a good opening week overall for the PFL.
In fact, Mercer and Stetson were the only teams to win, surviving NAIA competition.
Morehead State didnt.
Pikeville, a Kentucky NAIA program, ruined the head coaching debut of Rob Tenyer with a 13-10 win.
Campbell made Charlottes football debut a nice one, with the 49ers cruising to a 52-7 home win in front of 16,630 at 15,314-seat Richardson Stadium.
Preseason PFL favorite San Diego lost 38-16 to Cal Poly, ranked 11th in FCS entering the season. Butler, picked to finish second, was thumped 55-14 by South Dakota State. Jacksonville fell 51-35 at Delaware.
Valparaiso was dropped 69-10 to North Dakota as the PFL went 2-9 with only two losses -- to the NAIA programs -- by fewer than 16 points.