Jake Bates played three college football seasons as a kicker, but he was used exclusively on kickoffs.

That meant, even as a kicker, he never attempted an extra point or field goal in college.

So, naturally, he drilled a 64-yard field goal with just two seconds left to give the UFL’s Michigan Panthers an 18-16 win over the St. Louis Battlehawks Saturday.

Bates was first a soccer player, earning an All-District first team nod while attending Tomball High School in Texas, and he parlayed that into two seasons of soccer at Central Arkansas.

But he turned to football in 2020 after transferring to Texas State. After two years there, he transferred again to the University of Arkansas, where, in 2022, he earned first-team All-SEC honors as a “kickoff specialist,” according to the Razorbacks’ website.

In 2023, Bates signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent but did not make the team out of training camp after converting two extra points in the preseason. He signed with the UFL shortly before the year ended.

And in his first field goal attempt since high school, he had ice in his veins.

Jake Bates celebrates

The Panthers trailed 16-15 when Bates came on to attempt a 64-yarder.


St. Louis had scored a touchdown and taken the lead on a one-point conversion with 49 seconds to go, and Michigan had no timeouts.

But that was plenty of time for Bates and the Panthers. 

“I prepared for this moment. I was ready,” Bates told FOX after the game. “When you have a lot of faith in your guys, man, nothing is (impossible with) God. He is risen. Easter weekend, man. It’s a really special feeling.”

Jake Bates with fans

The Battlehawks tried icing Bates by calling their final timeout, giving the kicker a warmup attempt. Bates drilled that and the one that counted moments later.

The game was played at Ford Field, home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions.


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