Did divine intervention help land the Vols’ game-winning Hail Mary pass?

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 01, 2016 - wide receiver Jauan Jennings #15 of the Tennessee Volunteers catches game winning touchdown during the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers at Sanford Stadium in Athens, GA. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Tennessee Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – If you missed it Saturday night, you have probably seen it by now – the Hail Mary pass that led Tennessee to victory over Georgia.

Do you know how a Hail Mary pass works and where the name came from?

The term “Hail Mary” was first coined in football in 1975 when Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach said about his game-winning pass, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.”

Saturday, it was the pass seen ’round the world, or at least Big Orange Country. Josh Dobbs threw up a Hail Mary pass landing just where it was meant to in Jauan Jennings hands and winning the game with only seconds left.

It was a pass former Vol player Sterling “Sterl the Pearl” Henton will not forget seeing.

Sterling Henton (Courtesy: WATE)
Sterling Henton (Courtesy: WATE)

“Tennessee, we put the remix on it. We made it special, for the win, and I love it!” he said.

Hail Mary passes are not played often, and even less successfully, but they are practiced regularly.

“It takes some coordination to actually execute, but Saturday’s Hail Mary in the Georgia game 2016, it was all athleticism,” Henton said.

Some are wondering if there was something else helping get that ball to Jennings’ hands.

“The brother jumped in the air and paused, the ball came in his hands and I knew he was coming down with it the minute it touched his fingertips,” Henton said.

The answer may depend on who you ask. Bishop Richard Stika with the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville shared some insight.

“The Hail Mary is one of our fundamental prayers and is based on Saint Luke’s gospel, the beginning of the gospel when the angel Gabriel invited Mary to consider to be the mother of Jesus,” said Bishop Stika.

Bishop Richard Stika
Bishop Richard Stika (Courtesy: WATE) 

The original Hail Mary has nothing to do with football, but the sport may incite some prayers from loyal fans badly wanting a win.

“Butch Jones is a Catholic and a man of prayer and I can tell you I might have said, ‘Dear God, let’s go with this,’” said Bishop Stika.

For many Vol fans, it seems those prayers were answered.

“A blessing came down and an angel carried the ball to Jauan Jennings hands,” Henton said.

Bishop Stika added, “Thank God and thank the Blessed Mother he caught the ball the other day.”