Rex Culpepper’s 69-yard scoring pass Saturday afternoon did not produce a win. It simply gave Syracuse a momentary lead against Pittsburgh.
But the play was significant.
For the former Plant star, it was the first time he threw a touchdown pass since overcoming testicular cancer more than two years ago.
The cancer was discovered on March 18, 2018. Culpepper had surgery the following day. It spread to his lymph nodes and abdomen, requiring chemotherapy
Culpepper (featured photo above courtesy of Syracuse Athletics) endured the treatment. He was weak at times. His hair fell out.
That did not deter Culpepper. He was determined to get back on the field, sooner rather than later.
Last season, he played in two games and had two passing attempts, none resulting in a score.
On Saturday, his moment arrived.
Culpepper relieved an injured Tommy Devito in the second quarter. Facing 3rd-and-11, he dropped back and lofted a perfectly placed pass to Taj Harris, who sprinted down the sideline for the score.
Harris was not the only one heading toward the end zone. So was Culpepper, who raised his arms and held them aloft, joyously jumping around the field. His hair, once gone, is now long enough that it sneaks out of his helmet.
The Orange might not be back. They lost 21-10.
But Culpepper showed, at least for one memorable play, that his comeback was complete.