No matter how many games you’ve seen at any level, high school-college-or pro, a play, a possession, or a call always seems to come along that you’ve never seen before. For many of us, it was last Friday night in the Hazelwood Central vs Lafayette game. Here’s the setting.
It’s the first quarter, no score, and Hazelwood East with the ball. Lafayette intercepts a pass and it’s first and goal at the 5 yard line.1st down Lafayette runs for 3 yards. Second down, another run play, lose a yard, so now it’s 3rd down and 3 for the score. QB Trevor McMurray roles right and throws back into the middle to #28, Matt Welby. In unison, the chant “TOUCHDOWN” goes up as the crowd reacts. Unfortunately, something else went up also. That would be a penalty flag. The crowd anxiously awaits the call. Suddenly, to what seemed to be the surprise of the masses, the signal for “Ineligible Player Downfield” against Lafayette was given, making it 4th and goal. I’m relatively sure someone somewhere has seen ineligible man downfield called on a 3rd and goal play from the 3 yard line, but I’d never seen it or heard it, nor had many of the fans at the game. So in comes the field goal team to settle for a 3 point attempt. The snap is down, the kick is up, and the kick is good.
But wait!! Can this be? There’s a flag on the play and Hazelwood East is being called for a personal foul, “Roughing the Kicker”. We all know what that means, don’t we? It’s now Lafayette ball,1st and goal from the 10 yard line. Points are being taken off the board. Once again, after 2 plays, it’s 3rd and 6 from the 6 and many of us that are old enough hear Yogi Berra whisper “it’s deja vue all over again”. This time QB Trevor McMurray hands off to #33 Taylor Grimm who makes two cuts and ends up in the end zone. TOUCHDOWN! NO FLAGS! Extra point is good! After 2 first and goals on the same possession, 7 plays from scrimmage, and some time off the clock, Lafayette leads 7-0.
NOTE: According to what I could find in the rule book, linemen are limited to 2 yards from the line of scrimmage and the ball was placed on the 3 yard line. There must have been a lineman burst to the end zone for a block, a pic, or to initiate the celebration. Joint congratulations go out on this one. First to a very keen eye for detail on the part of the penalty called, and second to the Lafayette Lancers for overcoming what was legitimate adversity and walking away with a score. I’d love to hear anyone else’s understanding of the rule, particularly if you are, or have been a Referee.