Official: Myers conversion catch should have counted
Maryville quarterback Nick Myers holds the ball aloft after his fourth-quarter, two-point conversion catch. Photos by Brandon Shinn
By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row
Cookeville – Make what you will of how much it affected the outcome, but the call was wrong.
T.J. Kimble’s touchdown catch with 45 seconds remaining pulled Maryville within 28-27 of Whitehaven in the Class 6A state championship game Saturday night at Tennessee Tech’s Tucker Stadium.
The Rebels went for the lead on the conversion, and an end-around, trick-play pass from receiver Cody Carroll found a wide-open Nick Myers, the Maryville quarterback, in the end zone for the points.
It was 29-28 Rebels for all of two seconds as Maryville right tackle Brad Fields was declared an ineligible receiver downfield on the play.
Forced to go again, Rebel coach George Quarles opted for a Miguel McNelly kick to tie the score.
Whitehaven went for two after scoring on the second possession of overtime, Mississippi commitment Mark Dodson racing to the right corner for a 36-35 win and the Tigers’ first state title.
Fields was not illegally downfield on the play. By rule, it wasn’t even possible.
Blount Press Row played a hunch and stayed right where we were when the Rebels came to the line. Kimble’s touchdown catch happened right in front us in that corner of the end zone, the defender badly beaten. The starting cornerback for Whitehaven on that side was a freshman.
One last thing before we get to the rule in play: the play itself.
Myers looked to be giving instructions to his linemen he was changing the play as he stepped behind right guard. Rebel center Drew Curtis immediately snapped the ball to running back Shawn Prevo, who broke left.
At this point, Fields and the player he’s blocking are obstructing our view, but, as heads swing round, we’re able to spot Carroll coming back our way with the ball – and Myers coming around Fields at the line of scrimmage.
Now, the rule.
First thing Sunday morning, Blount Press Row began calling local officials we’ve come to know. The one we got hold of is one of the very best. We didn’t ask if Maryville got robbed. Our question was: Can a lineman even be illegally downfield on a two-point conversion?
By rule, officials typically extend the neutral zone “two yards behind the defensive line” on passing plays to give offensive linemen a break, he told us. You can’t ask a guy engaged as Fields was to look down, notice he’s about to cross the line of scrimmage and just stop blocking.
Since a 2-yard cushion puts the ball on the goal line, how can you be illegally downfield when there’s no more field?
Look at any photo you can find of the play. There’s no one anywhere near Myers when he makes the catch, Fields or anyone else.
Wouldn’t Fields at least have to be in the end zone with Myers?
Blount Press Row spoke briefly with TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress after the game.
It won’t change the outcome of the game, but “we’ll review it,” he said.
Quarles took the high road concerning the call. Whitehaven was a deserving champion, he said. The Rebels, with two interceptions and two lost fumbles on the night, made too many mistakes themselves to pin everything on an official’s error.
Dodson, whose 1-yard touchdown run set up the winning conversion in overtime, finished with 318 yards on 34 carries, averaging 9.4 yards per rush.
“It’s just one of those things,” Quarles said. “We had plenty of other chances to win the game. We just didn’t get it done.”
Blount Press Row is interested in what you think about the play. We’re trying to get our “Forums” section underway. We invite you visit, register and state your case.
Keep it clean.
Good job, Rebels.