CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - There are givens when it comes to Georgia Southern fullback Adrian Peterson. Guarantees. As inevitable as the sunrise or a rowdy Georgia Southern post-game celebration.
Sooner or later, he is going to break a big run. Sooner or later, he is going to get his 100 yards. Nothing short of the rapture can prevent him from his appointed yards.
And some games, Georgia Southern doesn't need them. Saturday's national championship game wasn't one of those days.
In fact, the Eagles couldn't have survived without them.
Trailing 23-20 early in the fourth quarter, Georgia Southern was reeling. Montana had just scored its third touchdown in seven minutes, erasing a 20-3 deficit.
A driving rainstorm turned the Finley Stadium turf into a mud puddle. Georgia Southern's triple-option attack, which had abused Montana's defense on the outside in running out to an early lead, needed a canoe to navigate the sidelines.
Suddenly the play Montana had denied Peterson and the Eagles all game - the fullback dive - turned into the play that would deny the Grizzlies a national championship. Peterson took the handoff from J.R. Revere, ran through a mess of defenders at the line of scrimmage and sprinted down the GSU sideline for a 57-yard touchdown.
A reporter after the game called it the "son of the run" in reference to Peterson's astonishing dash in last year's national championship win over Youngstown State. Saturday's scoring run wasn't nearly as dramatic - Peterson broke half-a-dozen tackles and threw aside a Youngstown State defender on "The Run" a year ago - but it was much more important.
"The heck of it is we were doing a good job on him. But then we make one little mistake, and he makes you pay for it," Montana coach Joe Glenn said. "You miss him one time, and he's off running in the secondary."
Peterson finished with 148 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. But prior to his eventual game-winning run, his longest play of the day was 16 yards. Bottled up inside in the first half, much of Peterson's 73 first-half yards came on option pitches.
But as the field conditions deteriorated in the third quarter, Peterson went back to work between the tackles. Consequently, he had 3 yards on three carries in the period.
Then the fourth quarter started.
"It got to the point where we were turning it over and weren't controlling the ball," Revere said. "That's when you go to your bread and butter. That's when I gave the ball to (Peterson)."
Peterson's run pushed him over the century mark for the 43rd time in 43 games. His 148 yards pushed him over the 2,000-yard mark for the third-straight year. He finished the 2000 playoffs with 695 yards, giving him 2,813 in 12 career playoff games.
And he amazed everyone once again.
"He's one of those guys who, if you don't keep your hands on him, poof! He's gone," Montana linebacker Adam Boomer said. "It's fun just to play against a guy like that."