Mercifully, the college football season officially kicks off in ten days. Since there are so many great plays out there, and just two more segments left, I’ve decided to put together a collection of different plays for this installment. It will have a little something for everyone.
7. The Hidden Player Trick (Arkansas State vs. Ball State, 2014 Go Daddy Bowl)
Let’s kick things off with a little trickeration.
Even though it trailed, 10-3, Arkansas State had just seized the momentum in this contest by holding Ball State a to a field goal. With a score before the half, the Red Wolves could go into the locker room knotted up at 10.
Interim Red Wolves coach John Thompson made absolutely certain that would happen. On the third play of the drive, he reached deep into his bag of tricks, using this little gadget play. Quarterback Fredi Knighten took the snap from center and handed the ball to receiver R.J. Fleming, who was hard to see since he was squatting behind the Arkansas State offensive line. Fleming then raced down the sideline for a 27-yard gain, giving the Red Wolves the ball at the Cardinals’ 24-yard line. ASU would punch the ball across the goal line six plays later.
6. Wentworth Waltzes In (Cal Poly at Fresno State, 2013)
As many of you have figured out, I love watching offensive and defensive linemen score touchdowns, which is why this play checks in at No. 6.
Up 20-0, Fresno had the ball on the Cal Poly 13 and was driving to take a commanding four-score lead. In what seemed like an ordinary play, Bulldog quarterback David Carr fired a quick pass to Davante Adams. Just as the Mustang defenders were ready to make the tackle, Adams pitched the ball to tackle Austin Wentworth, who waltzed into the end zone for a touchdown.
There’s nothing quite like rewarding a fifth-year senior for his hard work, is there?
5. Rice’s Run (Notre Dame at USC, 1988)
Heading into this contest, many people expected the No. 1 Irish to lose to the No. 2 Trojans. After all, Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz suspended the team’s leading rusher and its top receiver for a violation of team rules. With those two weapons out of the lineup, would Notre Dame be able to score enough points to defeat Southern Cal’s potent offense, led by future NFL quarterback Rodney Peete?
Tony Rice answered that question with an emphatic “yes” on the third play from scrimmage. Faced with a third and four, Rice ran the option to the left side of the field, and simply outran the USC defenders to the end zone.
This electrifying run would set the tone for the entire game, and ultimately propel the Irish into the national championship game, the 1989 Fiesta Bowl – which it won over Major Harris and West Virginia, 34-21.
4. Winston’s Hail Mary (Florida State at Boston College, 2013)
After breezing through the first three games on the schedule, some people questioned how good Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was heading into this game.
It took just one play to silence these critics permanently.
With time running out in the first half, Florida State had one final shot at the end zone. The BC front four burst through the line and appeared to have Winston sacked. However, he broke two tackles, and created just enough time to fire the ball downfield over the head of an Eagle defender and into the hands of receiver Kenny Shaw for a touchdown.
This highlight-reel TD as time expired changed the entire complexion of the game. Instead of BC going into the locker room thinking that it had a chance to pull off the upset, it found itself down by seven points despite playing a very solid half of football.
3. Aaron’s Amazing Catch (East Carolina at Marshall, 2011)
People use the phrase “greatest of all time” way too often when talking about college football games.
However, that description is appropriate here in regards to one-handed touchdown grabs. On third and goal from the East Carolina 13, Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato lofted the ball into the end zone for Aaron Dobson. Although an East Carolina defender was right there with him, Dobson managed to make an amazing backhanded catch with just one hand.
This acrobatic grab would make the difference in both the game and Marshall’s season. Had the Thundering Herd settled for three in this situation, they would have lost the game. Instead, the extra four points helped MU force overtime, which would ultimately allow it to win the game and earn a bowl bid.
2. Just an Old Fashioned Tip Drill (Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, 2010)
Shaun Lewis of Oklahoma State had two picks in this contest. While he returned the first one for a touchdown, he’ll likely remember the second one forever.
Make no mistake about it: this should not have been an interception. Realizing that no one was open downfield, it looked like Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones did the right thing by throwing the ball out of bounds rather than risking a sack.
But, it didn’t work out that way. OSU’s Brodrick Brown made an exceptional play to get his hands on the seemingly harmless pass, deflecting it back to Lewis, who alertly caught the ball and returned it into Oklahoma territory.
1. “The Run” By Major Harris
[Cover story photo courtesy of TheSignalCaller.com]
It’s one thing to score a touchdown on a well-executed play. It’s quite another to make it happen all on your own.
West Virginia star Major Harris did the latter on this electrifying run, roughly a quarter of a century ago.
Believe it or not, the Mountaineers actually called an option play to the top of the screen. However, Harris went the wrong way, and ran right into the Penn State defense for what looked like a three-yard loss.
However, Harris wasn’t going to be stopped on this play. After stiff-arming the initial defender, he made three people miss, and broke another tackle at the 5-yard line before galloping across goal line.
I’ve never seen a greater individual effort by one player in my entire life.