Flashing blue lights from a police escort signaled the arrival of the national champion Augusta State men's golf team Sunday night.
At 9:24 p.m., the team pulled into the athletic department parking lot off Wrightsboro Road.
They were greeted in front of the J. Fleming Norvell Golf House by more than 200 supporters, including university President William Bloodworth and Mayor Deke Copenhaver, an Augusta State graduate.
Earlier Sunday, Augusta State upset top-ranked Oklahoma State 3-1-1 in Ooltewah, Tenn., to win the school's first NCAA national title in any sport.
A rousing cheer went up as the team van pulled into the parking lot. It grew louder when the side door opened and Carter Newman, the only local player on the team, stepped out holding the first-place trophy. It was passed around amid rousing applause to each player and coach Josh Gregory.
"This is a credit to everybody in the community, all the former players and former coaches that gave me an opportunity to do this," said Gregory, who was named national coach of the year after the victory. "I'm not going to thank everybody -- I can't. I can promise you no other university would have a police escort back to campus."
Gregory thanked his players, including Mitch Krywulycz, who was 4-down in his match Sunday but came back to win for the deciding point.
"It's a big credit to them," Krywulycz said of the fans who turned out. "It's 9:30 on Sunday night and people have a lot other things to do that are a lot more important than sports. ... No town would appreciate it more than this town."
"It's incredible," Jerry Matheis said of the victory. "This little, tiny school."
Bloodworth said he believes none of the 30 schools that started the NCAA Division I Golf Championships has a smaller sports budget than Augusta State. He called the victory "the proudest moment I've had as president, and I've been here a long time. This is probably the college sports story of the year for a team like Augusta State to win the national championship in golf."
Augusta State plays in Division II in all sports except golf.
"This is beating the big boys," supporter E.G. Meybohm said. "I don't know of anything that would mean as much that's happened in my lifetime at Augusta State."
Bloodworth drove to Tennessee and cheered the Jaguars on Saturday and Sunday, then beat them back home by about an hour. He was still wearing his tournament pass on a belt loop.
"I'm never going to take it off," he said, joking. "I'm going to wear it the rest of my life."