Time was ticking down as South Carolina was inching closer to its upset over Tennessee on Oct. 30. The Gamecocks were up 24–21 with under a minute left and the student section was prepping for a time-honored tradition of a potential field storming.
But there was one problem for Will Mackey: he wasn't in the main student section. He was in the upper deck student section at Williams-Brice surrounded by Volunteer fans.
"There was about a minute left," Mackey said. "The student section was kind of compacting into one corner. One Tennessee fan said, 'You're going to miss storming the field with all your buddies down there.'"
Mackey couldn't pass up on that, especially being a freshman. The next minute was filled with sprinting, dodging hordes of fans in a desperate attempt to rush the field with his friends.
But in the pandemonium, he got lost. He wound up on the other side of the stadium directly across from the students. And as the clock hit zero and the Gamecocks completed the upset, Mackey found himself alone and on the field.
"It sounds dumb, but the first forty yards ran I don't remember it. There was just so much adrenaline and so much excitement that took over me," he said. "I thought people with me. Looking into my phone and seeing no one else with me, I don't want to say my heart dropped fully, but it dropped a little."
The next nine seconds were documented in a flurry of blurry video as Mackey recorded himself shrilly screaming, a sound he called "pure excitement," as he sprinted down the to celebrate with backup quarterback Perry Orth.
He tweeted the video after the Tennessee game, and it's gone viral since then. It currently has over 4,000 retweets and he's become a star of the football team. Gamecock players Elliott Fry, Deebo Samuel and Terry Googer have reached out to him, commending him for the video.
"For them to care this much about some student who made a dumb decision says a lot about the people on our football team," Mackey said. "They've made my life just by saying hey."
Mackey can't request student tickets the rest of the season since he stormed the field, but that hasn't stopped him from coming to games. For Homecoming weekend against Missouri, he was in the lower level about 10 yards away from where he originally stormed the field a week early.
That doesn't mean he didn't go, and didn't do it lavishly. He showed up in a fake mustache and glasses, enjoying his moment in the sun. He said he's trying to plan something for the last home game against Western Carolina as the legend of Will Mackey continues to grow.
"I never would have thought I would be this big of a name at a school as big as this. I graduated with 86 kids, and coming down here that's made the campus a little bit smaller," he said. "I grew up loving South Carolina ad I never thought I'd be a big name at South Carolina. This has been beyond my best dream."
Collyn Taylor is SI's campus correspondent for the University of South Carolina. Follow him on Twitter.