Millsaps Majors

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Millsaps Majors
Logo
University Millsaps College
Conference Southern Athletic Association
NCAA Division III
Athletic director Josh Brooks
Location Jackson, MS
Varsity teams 18
Football stadium Harper Davis Field (football, soccer, and lacrosse)
Basketball arena The Hangar Dome (basketball and volleyball)
Baseball stadium Twenty Field
Other arenas Millsaps Softball Complex
Mascot The Millsaps Major[1]
Nickname Majors
Fight song "Purple and White" ("Notre Dame Victory March")
Colors
     Purple       White
Website www.gomajors.com

The Millsaps Majors is the nickname for the sports teams of Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi and their colors are purple and white. They participate in the NCAA's Division III and the Southern Athletic Association.[2]

Men participate in baseball, basketball, cheerleading, football, soccer, tennis, golf, lacrosse, track and field, and cross country. Women's sports include basketball, softball, soccer, tennis, golf, cross country, lacrosse, track and field, and volleyball.[2]

Football[edit]

Millsaps's all-time record in football is 380 wins, 356 loses and 36 ties (.516). The gridiron Majors have posted two undefeated regular seasons in their history (1980 & 2008), earned three NCAA playoff tournament berths (1975, 2006 & 2008) and claimed six Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championships (1991, 1996, 2006, 2007, 2008 & 2009).

Prior to 1964[edit]

1930 Western Union telegam: Millsaps College beats Mississippi State University (then Mississippi A&M) in football, 19-13.

Millsaps fielded its first intercollegiate football team in 1920. From 1920 to 1963 the Majors accumulated a 131-174-30 record over 40 seasons (no team was fielded in 1942, 1943 or 1945).[3]

Between 1920 and 1959 the Majors met their rival Mississippi College Choctaws in 39 games, constituting the historic Backyard Brawl rivalry between the two schools. During that time the Choctaws claimed a 24-9-6 lead in the series, which was discontinued after 1959.

The Harper Davis Era (1964-1988)[edit]

In 1964, Harper Davis took over as the Majors' head coach. A Clarksdale, Mississippi native, Davis had been a four-time All-SEC selection as a Defensive Back at Mississippi State from 1945 to 1948[4] who went on to a brief professional career.[5] Davis's tenure at Millsaps got off to an inauspicious start: The Majors finished 0-8 in 1964, followed by losing seasons in two of the next three years. From there, however, Davis elevated the program to one of the most competitive in the South among the small college ranks, with 19 winning seasons between 1968 and 1988.

In 1975, Davis guided the team to its first-ever berth in the Division III playoffs where the Majors lost to eventual national champion Wittenberg in the semifinal round to finish the year with a 9-2 record.[3] Five years later, in 1980, the Majors completed their first and only undefeated season to date. With Davis at the helm, the team went 9-0, racking up 350 points (38.9/game) while allowing opponents just 31 (3.4/game), recorded five shutouts and won four games by more than 50 points each, including setting the school record for points in a game in an 84-0 drubbing of Landmark Baptist College.[3] The highlight of the season was an 8-7 victory over Central Florida's up-and-coming football program, played before 12,793 fans at the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando.[6] It was Central Florida who returned to Jackson the following season and snapped the Majors 13-game winning streak dating back to the final contest of the 1979 season, 13-6.[3]

Davis retired after the 1988 season, having guided the Majors to a 140-78-4 record (.631) during his 25 year-tenure. All of the Majors' previous coaches had accumulated just 131 victories in 40 seasons.

After Davis (1989-2005)[edit]

After Davis stepped down, his longtime assistant, Tommy Ranager, was named to lead the football program. The 1989 season marked the first time the Majors played as a conference affiliate and not an independent team, having joined the expanding Collegiate Athletic Conference. In 1991, Ranager's Majors finished the year 7-2, including a 3-1 conference mark that earned Millsaps a share of the first conference championship of the newly restructured and renamed Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference and Ranager conference "Coach of the Year" honors.[3] In 1994, however, Ranager's Majors finished 4-6 (2-2 SCAC), marking the team's first losing season since 1977, and followed that with a 2-7 (0-4 SCAC) campaign in 1995, prompting the program to seek new direction.

Ron Jurney, who succeeded Ranager, guided the Majors to an 8-2 (4-1) finish and a share of the program's second SCAC championship in his first season in 1996, earning him conference "Coach of the Year" honors. The Majors snapped Trinity's streak of 12 consecutive victories by a 13-10 margin in the season finale in Jackson to share the SCAC title with the Tigers. However, Jurney's teams over the next three seasons never won more than three games in a season, accumulating a combined record of 8-22 (2-15 SCAC), resulting in Jurney being relieved of his post after the 1999 campaign.

Former Mississippi State head coach Bob Tyler, who guided the Bulldogs to several successful seasons during the 1970s, was hired to replace Jurney. Under Tyler, Millsaps and Mississippi College renewed their historic Backyard Brawl rivalry in 2000. The much anticipated game was played at Memorial Stadium in Jackson before more than 10,000 fans, with the Majors kicking the winning field goal with 16 seconds left for a 20-19 victory. Since the series was renewed, the Majors and the Choctaws have faced off in the opening week of every season except 2005, when the teams did not meet. Tyler led the team to a .500 record in 2000 (5-5, 2-4 SCAC) and a winning season in 2001 (6-4, 3-3 SCAC), however, when the Majors finished the 2002 season with five consecutive loses, all against conference opponents, resulting in a disappointing 3-6 (1-5 SCAC) record, the program again opted to make a change.

In 2003, Millsaps hired David Saunders to fill Tyler's vacated post, making him the program's fourth coach in the fourteen seasons since Harper Davis's retirement. Saunders had previously been the Recruiting Coordinator on David Cutcliffe's staff at Ole Miss. After three unsuccessful seasons resulting in a combined 7-21 record (5-13 SCAC), Saunders returned to the Rebels to join Ed Orgeron's staff.

Resurgence Under DuBose (2006-2009)[edit]

After just one season at Millsaps, Defensive Coordinator Mike DuBose was promoted to Head Coach to replace Saunders in 2006. DuBose had previously been the Head Coach of Alabama's football team from 1997 to 2000, leading the Crimson Tide to an SEC championship in 1999. DuBose brought a bright football mind and a new-found confidence and enthusiasm to the program that produced results few could've foreseen.

2006[edit]

DuBose's first season got off to a rocky start. The Majors were hammered 52-28 by Mississippi College in the season-opening Backyard Brawl game, which returned after a one year hiatus in 2005. The Majors then lost their next two games in heartbreaking fashion, by a combined total of four points. However, DuBose's team managed an incredible turn-around that shocked the SCAC, when the team went on to win their next six games to set up a showdown with perennial SCAC juggernaut Trinity in the season finale. Each team entered the contest at 5-0 in conference play, meaning the winner would receive the SCAC's automatic playoff bid and claim the SCAC title outright.

Trinity, ranked 21st nationally, was heavily favored to end the Majors' incredible run; the Tigers had won or shared 13 consecutive SCAC championships dating back to 1993 (Millsaps and Trinity shared the title in 1996) and were winners of five straight contests against the Majors, including a 41-0 blowout the previous year in San Antonio. However, the Majors stunned the Tigers 34-12, emerging victorious behind a three touchdown-performance from senior wide receiver Chris Jackson, who returned two punts for scores and caught another. The win gave Millsaps a 6-0 final record in conference play (7-3 overall), earning the Majors their third SCAC title (their first won outright) and the league's automatic playoff bid for the first time. The tournament appearance was just the second in the program's history, the first since 1975.

DuBose was named the SCAC's 2006 "Coach of the Year" for engineering the Majors' remarkable turn-around. Sophomore quarterback Juan Joseph was named the league's "Offensive Player of the Year" and Chris Jackson was honored as the league's "Special Teams Player of the Year" and named a first team All-American for his role as the team's return specialist. In all, 20 Majors were named to the All-SCAC first team, second team and honorable mention lists.

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site Result Attendance
September 2 7:00 PM Mississippi College (5-5)* Harper Davis Field • Jackson, Mississippi (Backyard Brawl) L 28-52 (0-1)   5,217
September 9 1:00 PM Louisiana College (4-5)* Harper Davis Field • Jackson L 38-41 (0-2)   1,038
September 16 12:00 PM Huntingdon (6-4)* Harper Davis Field • Jackson L 34-35 (0-3)   752
September 30 12:00 PM Lincoln (Missouri) (1-8)* Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 52-10 (1-3)   762
October 7 1:00 PM Centre (5-5, 2-4) Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 38-12 (2-3, 1-0)   714
October 14 1:30 PM at Austin (4-6, 2-4) Jerry Apple Stadium • Sherman, Texas W 26-11 (3-3, 2-0)   1,000
October 21 1:30 PM DePauw (6-4, 3-3) Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 31-7 (4-3, 3-0)   675
October 28 1:30 PM at Sewanee (2-8, 0-6) McGee Stadium • Sewanee, Tennessee W 35-18 (5-3, 4-0)   2,833
November 4 1:00 PM at Rhodes (6-4, 3-3) Fargason Field • Memphis, Tennessee W 14-6 (6-3, 5-0)   1,500
November 11 1:30 PM #21 Trinity (8-2, 5-1)dagger Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 34-12 (7-3, 6-0)   3,784
November 18 12:00 PM at #24 Carnegie Mellon (11-1)* Gesling Field • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Playoffs, First Round) L 0-21 (7-4)   1,632
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. All times are in Central Standard Time.

2007[edit]

Having established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the SCAC, DuBose and the 2007 Majors, led by a large group of seniors and returning starters, set their goals high, aiming to repeat as SCAC champions and gain another playoff berth. The season began on a sour note, however, when Millsaps suffered a disappointing loss at the hands of Mississippi College in the Backyard Brawl. Millsaps, having led comfortably for most of the game, took a 26-6 advantage into the fourth quarter. However, as the Majors were resting their starters and putting less experienced players into the game, the Choctaws began to find a rhythm. DuBose never returned his starters to the game as his team's lead began to dwindle and Mississippi College roared back with three touchdowns in the final quarter to claim a 27-26 victory.

The Majors managed to rebound from the season-opening loss, though, and by winning their next six games (by an average margin of over 31 points; none smaller than 18) set up another home showdown with Trinity that was, like the previous year's contest, essentially a conference championship game. The events that unfolded that day at Harper Davis Field are now forever etched in football lore, with Trinity claiming a come-from-behind victory on arguably the single greatest play in the history of the sport as time expired. The Majors went on to route their two remaining opponents to earn a share of the SCAC title, but Trinity received the conference's lone automatic playoff bid. Had the Majors won against Mississippi College, a 9-1 record may have been enough to earn them the first at-large playoff bid ever awarded to a SCAC team, but at 8-2 the team was passed over by the NCAA selection committee.

As in 2006, the Majors' success on the field was reflected in the 2007 all-conference superlatives. Junior quarterback Juan Joseph was the SCAC's "Offensive Player of the Year" for the second consecutive season, senior defensive tackle Casey Younger was the league's co-"Defensive Player of the Year" and sophomore return specialist John Milazzo was the SCAC's "Special Teams Player of the Year." In all, 19 Majors were named to the All-SCAC first team, second team and honorable mention lists.

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site Result Attendance
August 30 7:00 PM at Mississippi College (8-2)* Robinson-Hale Stadium • Clinton, Mississippi (Backyard Brawl) L 26-27 (0-1)   5,293
September 8 4:00 PM at Louisiana College (5-5)* D.C. Bates Stadium • Pineville, Louisiana W 44-10 (1-1)   3,877
September 15 1:00 PM at Austin (4-6, 2-5) Jerry Apple Stadium • Sherman, Texas W 43-10 (2-1, 1-0)   1,200
September 22 1:00 PM Rhodes (6-4, 4-3) Harper Davis Field • Jackson, Mississippi W 42-0 (3-1, 2-0)   2,112
September 29 1:00 PM at DePauw (8-2, 5-2) Blackstock Stadium • Greencastle, Indiana W 35-17 (4-1, 3-0)   3,500
October 6 1:00 PM Centre (6-4, 4-3) Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 29-7 (5-1, 4-0)   1,098
October 13 1:30 PM at Sewanee (1-8, 0-7) McGee Stadium • Sewanee, Tennessee W 45-7 (6-1, 5-0)   2,093
October 27 1:00 PM #19 Trinity (9-2, 6-1)dagger #24 Harper Davis Field • Jackson L 24-28 (6-2, 5-1)   4,032
November 3 1:00 PM at Colorado College (4-6, 1-6) Washburn Field • Colorado Springs, Colorado W 68-6 (7-2, 6-1)   684
November 10 1:00 PM Birmingham-Southern (1-7)* Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 58-7 (8-2, 6-1)   1,899
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. All times are in Central Standard Time.

2008[edit]

The 2008 season was a very successful season. The Majors rolled through the regular season, going 10-0 and outscoring their opponents 442 to 132. The team avenged 2007's crushing loses at the hands of Mississippi College and Trinity, pummeling the Choctaws 42-6 in the eighth edition of the renewed Backyard Brawl and punishing the Tigers 56-27 in San Antonio.

The Majors captured their third consecutive SCAC championship, winning outright to earn the program's third NCAA tournament berth, became the first team in the program's history to reach double digit wins and climbed to their highest ever national ranking, #3, before finishing the season 11-1 and ranked #12 nationally.

Once again, DuBose was named the conference's "Coach of the Year" and senior quarterback Juan Joseph was the SCAC's "Offensive Player of the Year" for the third consecutive season. Sophomore wide receiver and return specialist Michael Galatas was named the conference's "Special Teams Player of the Year" and freshman running back Shane Bowser was the SCAC's co-"Newcomer of the Year." In all, 20 Majors were named to the All-SCAC first team, second team and honorable mention lists.

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site Result Attendance
September 6 7:00 PM #25 Mississippi College (5-5)* Harper Davis Field • Jackson, Mississippi (Backyard Brawl) W 42-6 (1-0)   4,178
September 13 7:00 PM at Belhaven (2-9)* #24 H.T. Newell Field • Jackson (Riverside Rumble) W 34-14 (2-0)   2,150
September 20 1:00 PM Austin (5-5, 3-4) #22 Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 41-7 (3-0, 1-0)   1,012
September 27 1:00 PM at Rhodes (4-6, 2-5) #19 Fargason Field • Memphis, Tennessee W 49-2 (4-0, 2-0)   1,111
October 4 1:00 PM DePauw (8-2, 5-2) #13 Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 55-13 (5-0, 3-0)   955
October 11 12:30 PM at Centre (7-3, 5-2) #12 Farris Stadium • Danville, Kentucky W 46-26 (6-0, 4-0)   1,000
October 18 1:00 PM Sewanee (2-8, 1-6) #12 Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 38-17 (7-0, 5-0)   620
November 1 1:30 PM at #14 Trinity (8-2, 5-2) #5 E.M. Stevens Stadium • San Antonio, Texas W 56-27 (8-0, 6-0)   3,213
November 8 1:00 PM Colorado College (0-9, 0-7)dagger #4 Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 50-6 (9-0, 7-0)   2,731
November 15 12:00 PM at Birmingham-Southern (3-7)* #4 Panther Stadium • Birmingham, Alabama W 31-14 (10-0, 7-0)   1,696
November 22 12:00 PM LaGrange (9-2)* #3 Harper Davis Field • Jackson (Playoffs, First Round) W 51-26 (11-0)   1,044
November 29 12:00 PM #19 Washington & Jefferson (11-2)* #3 Harper Davis Field • Jackson (Playoffs, Second Round) L 20-35 (11-1)   857
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. All times are in Central Standard Time.

2009[edit]

In 2009, the Majors finished 5-1 in SCAC play to again earn a share of the conference title. The team's fourth conference championship in as many years was added to the accomplishments of the winningest senior class in the program's history, who finished their four-year careers with a 33-10 overall record.

However, the team had hoped to attain another NCAA playoff berth, a cause derailed by three painfully close loses. First, the Majors lost to their rival Choctaws in two overtimes in the season-opening ninth edition of the renewed Backyard Brawl. Millsaps won their next three games, including an emotional 24-6 victory over Trinity after a week in which Coach DuBose's wife Polly underwent the first of several breast cancer surgeries that took place during the season.[7]

The following week Coach DuBose spent limited time with the team while caring for his wife, as the Majors prepared for an important conference road game. The team traveled to Greencastle, Indiana to face DePauw. Coincidentally, the game fell on the first weekend of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), and DePauw had painted a pair of pink ribbons on their field in support of the event. In a show of outstanding camaraderie and sportsmanship, DePauw had then inscribed "P.D." in each of the ribbons for Polly DuBose. The Majors put forth a valiant effort in the game, coming from 16 down to within a two-point conversion of tying the game with under four minutes to play. The two point attempt failed when running back Shane Bowser could not escape an open field tackle and came up less than a yard short of the endzone. DePauw was able to run out the clock and preserve the victory, handing the Majors only their second conference loss of DuBose's tenure in heartbreaking fashion, after the Majors had won 10 straight dating back to that fateful 2007 contest against Trinity.

The next week the Majors came up with another disappointing loss, again on the road, this time at the hands of Huntingdon. Millsaps squandered a 36-24 third quarter advantage, as Huntingdon's potent offense caught fire in the second half. The Majors' normally powerful offensive unit sputtered as two quarterbacks were forced to leave the game due to injury and the team could only watch as Huntingdon roared back to claim a 47-36 victory.

The team finished the season on a positive note, handily dispatching of their last four opponents, including a homecoming victory over previously undefeated Centre. A 61-7 dismantling of Sewanee the following week secured the program's share of a fourth consecutive conference title.

Junior return specialist Michael Galatas was named the SCAC's "Special Teams Player of the Year" for the second consecutive season, the fourth consecutive season the award went to a Major, and junior linebacker Will Hawkins was the conference's "Defensive Player of the Year", and a first team All-American.[8] A total of 20 Majors were voted to the all-conference first, second and honorable mention teams.

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site Result Attendance
September 5 7:20 PM at Mississippi College (9-3)* Robinson-Hale Stadium • Clinton, Mississippi (Backyard Brawl) L 44-472OT (0-1)   4,348
September 12 1:00 PM Belhaven (6-5)* Harper Davis Field • Jackson, Mississippi (Riverside Rumble) W 27-10 (1-1)   1,224
September 19 1:00 PM at Austin (4-5, 2-4) Jerry Apple Stadium • Sherman, Texas W 31-30 (2-1, 1-0)   1,100
September 26 1:00 PM Trinity (7-3, 4-2) Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 24-6 (3-1, 2-0)   1,802
October 3 12:00 PM at DePauw (7-3, 5-1) Blackstock Stadium • Greencastle, Indiana L 27-29 (3-2, 2-1)   2,000
October 10 1:00 PM at Huntingdon (8-3)* Charles Lee Field at Samford Stadium • Montgomery, Alabama L 36-47 (3-3)   1,747
October 17 1:00 PM Rhodes (3-7, 1-5) Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 38-22 (4-3, 3-1)   527
October 24 1:00 PM #25 Centre (7-2, 4-2)dagger Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 24-0 (5-3, 4-1)   1,763
October 31 1:30 PM at Sewanee (0-9, 0-6) McGee Stadium • Sewanee, Tennessee W 61-7 (6-3, 5-1)   339
November 14 1:00 PM Birmingham-Southern (4-6)* Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 38-20 (7-3, 5-1)   717
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. All times are in Central Standard Time.

In December, DuBose announced he was leaving Millsaps to join new Memphis coach Larry Porter's staff. DuBose's tenure ended with 33 victories in four seasons, prior to which the Majors had won just 37 games in 10 years, and DuBose's four consecutive conference championships came after the Majors had won only two since joining the SCAC in 1989. DuBose's .767 winning percentage is the highest of any coach in the school's history and only Harper Davis won more games as the Majors' head coach.

After DuBose (2010-present)[edit]

On March 1, 2010, Aaron Pelch was named as DuBose's successor. Pelch, a former Weber State University player and 2001 graduate, was a defensive assistant for DuBose's Majors from 2006 to 2008, before joining Tom Cable's Oakland Raiders staff as a special teams coach in 2009.

2010[edit]

Pelch guided the Majors to a 7-3 (5-1) record in his first season, but the team saw its streak of 4 consecutive SCAC championships snapped by virtue of a 21-35 home loss to DePauw, who finished the year 6-0 in conference play. The Majors' 2011 senior class tied the record set by the previous year's senior class of most career victories, with 33 in a four-year span. For the 5th year in a row, the Majors' offense was the SCAC's highest scoring unit.

Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site Result Attendance
September 4 7:00 PM #22 Mississippi College (4-6)* Harper Davis Field • Jackson, Mississippi (Backyard Brawl) L 23-27 (0-1)   1,510
September 11 12:00 PM at LaGrange (3-7)* Callaway StadiumLaGrange, Georgia L 21-27OT (0-2)   1,450
September 18 1:00 PM Austin (4-5, 2-4) Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 38-24 (1-2, 1-0)   302
September 25 1:30 PM at Trinity (4-6, 2-4) Trinity Stadium • San Antonio, Texas W 27-23 (2-2, 2-0)   2,121
October 2 1:00 PM DePauw (9-2, 6-0) Harper Davis Field • Jackson L 21-35 (2-3, 2-1)   1,674
October 9 1:00 PM Huntingdon (6-4)*dagger Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 35-19 (3-3)   1,434
October 16 1:00 PM at Rhodes (4-6, 3-3) Fargason Field • Memphis, Tennessee W 70-31 (4-3, 3-1)   929
October 23 1:30 PM at Centre (6-4, 3-3) Farris Stadium • Danville, Kentucky W 30-18 (5-3, 4-1)   1,034
October 30 1:00 PM Sewanee (1-9, 0-6) Harper Davis Field • Jackson W 30-0 (6-3, 5-1)   1,123
November 13 1:00 PM at Birmingham-Southern (6-4)* Panther Stadium • Birmingham, Alabama W 28-17 (7-3, 5-1)   2,847
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. All times are in Central Standard Time.

Baseball[edit]

2009 saw the Majors end the regular season with a 32-8 winning record (15-5 SCAC) and a SCAC West Division championship.[9][10] On April 14, 2009, the Majors were named the No. 1 team in the country by D3baseball.com for the first time in the programs history. It was the first time any athletic team has achieved this high of a ranking.[11]

Major League Baseball Draft[edit]

Millsaps has had 3 Major League Baseball Draft selections since the draft began in 1965.[12]

Year Player Round Team
1997 Austin PeterPeter Austin 40 Pirates
2005 Wetzel GarnerGarner Wetzel 10 Rockies
2006 Wetzel GarnerGarner Wetzel 18 Padres

Lacrosse[edit]

Both men and women will begin lacrosse teams in 2010.[13]

Rivalries[edit]

The Majors had a fierce football and basketball rivalry with Mississippi College in nearby Clinton through the 1950s before competition was suspended after an infamous student brawl at a basketball game. Campus legend says the brawl was sparked by the alleged theft of the body of Millsaps founder Major Millsaps by Mississippi College students. The rivalry was considered by many as the best in Mississippi, featuring a prank by Mississippi College students who painted "TO HELL WITH MILSAPS" (sic) on the Millsaps Observatory. The football rivalry resumed in 2000 as the "Backyard Brawl", with games being held at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium until 2006 when it was played at Robinson-Hale Stadium on the campus of Mississippi College. The rivalry took a one-year hiatus in 2005 but resumed in 2006.

NFL affiliation[edit]

Millsaps was the summer training camp home for the NFL's New Orleans Saints in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

References[edit]

External links[edit]