Most people would agree that the most famous “Walk-off” in Massachusetts history occurred October 21, 1975 at Fenway Park when the Red Sox Carlton Fisk homer, off of Pat Darcy of the Reds, hit the left field foul pole in the bottom of the 12th to win game six of the World Series, forcing a game seven.
You might have a harder time however picking the most famous “Walk-off” in the brief history of the Massachusetts Pirates. There have been a few and two of them belong to Lavon Pearson. Both were against Columbus.
On May 6, Sean Brackett hit Pearson with a ten yard touchdown pass with five seconds remaining to give the Pirates a 44-37 victory over the Lions at the DCU Center. On June 16 the pair teamed up again, this time with 4.4 seconds on the clock as the Pirates pulled out a 62-55 victory, again on their home turf.
Pearson says he’s never been involved with last second plays like that.
“No, I never have and now I have two in a row over the same team and they were exciting,” he said. A shout-out to Sean (Brackett) as he trusts me down in the red zone,” he added.
The June 16 affair saw the Pirates with the ball two yards away from victory and Pearson admits it was a special play for a special situation.
“That was the last play we ran in practice before the night before the game. Sean came into the huddle and called the play so I knew where the ball was going. We executed it in practice and that’s what happened in the game. It was a great experience.”
The wide out from New Port News, Virginia grew up following the exploits of the area’s favorite sons, Michael Vick and Allen Iverson, but as he was playing at Denbigh High School it was another stand out from the “Old Dominion” that caught his attention.
“Growing up I was a big Percy Harvin fan, he’s from Virginia. He went to Florida but I knew I wanted to play in the SEC. I talked to my friend (NFL wider receiver) Justin Hunter who went to Tennessee and I followed him there and we played together.”
Yet the road to playing with the Volunteers had a few twists and turns. After graduating high school he sat out a year working at fast food restaurants including McDonalds and Bo Jangles. Then he got a call to check out a small junior college in California.
“It was Feather River College in northern CA, close to Reno, NV, about an hour from Reno in the middle of nowhere. No one knows where it is.”
They might know now after he finished two seasons there, setting or sharing every receiving record the school has. He led the nation with 93 receptions for 1,601 yards and 12 TDs in 2013.
“In one game I had 14 catches, 319 yards and four touchdowns. After that, every team wanted me,” he said with a smile. “After that I did make it to Tennessee. It was a big walk up call. Talk about playing at Feather River and then playing at Tennessee which is one of the top schools …it was a BIG wakeup call."
Pearson started in 16 of his 24 games at Tennessee and led the team in receptions (38) and receiving yards (409) with three scores in his senior season.
So what’s the best part about SEC football?
“The fans. Tennessee has 102 thousand fans at every game. If you can play in front of them you can play against anybody. You can just feel it when you are on the field, the vibrations just come from the stands; it’s crazy and electrifying.”
After that he had a tryout with the Philadelphia Soul in the Arena Football League but it did not work out because veteran wide receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku, who planned to retire, decided to return and Pearson’s roster spot was gone. That led to his opportunity with the Pirates.
“One of the best things about this team is that everyone knows each other. I did not walk into a place where everyone was unfriendly. I can chill with everybody on this team and that makes us even closer as a group. It’s a family and we respect each-others’ game. If you sit out one week, you know your back-up is coming in and doing the same thing.”
To borrow a phrase from another sport, Pearson has a chance at the “Hat Trick” this Saturday as he and the Pirates will look for the season series sweep over the Lions as the first place Pirates travel to Columbus with the kickoff set for 7:00 pm.
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