Blount Press Row

Two Be, Or Not Two Be

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.

Myers makes the conversion catch in the end zone. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

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.

T.J. Kimble makes the touchdown grab with 45 seconds remaining. Photo by Jolanda Jansma

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?

Answer: No.

Myers makes the conversion catch all by his lonesome. Photo by Brandon Shinn

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.

Myers and fellow senior Greg Jones (60) exchange a handshake at the trophy presentation. Photo by Brandon Shinn

“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.

It’s free.

Keep it clean.

Good job, Rebels.



  1. Blake Andrews

    December 4, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    This is just another example why Instant Reply should be implemented into state games. TTU has it during regular season. Why doesn’t the state game? If you recall, Powell had a TD called down on the 2 when in reality, QB Dustin McPheteridge was extended beyond the plane of the goal line when his knee grazed the turf. Back to back years with extremely questionable calls should warrant a little bit of concern.

  2. rn

    December 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Mr. Bates you are wrong in your bias statement. The fact is the call was wrong and it cost Maryville dearly. Inspite of that fact you can’t take away anything from the kids from Whitehaven they played their tales off and did what needed to be done to win in a game that will always be remembered for one of the worst calls in the history of tssaa. I’m a Maryville fan and I will say that four turnovers ( one inside the ten yard line) would cost just about any team to lose. This has become a good rivalry and as a fan I can only hope they meet again next year.

  3. J.Canfield

    December 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    [Nice website, great photography and layout, very impressive…]

    The game represented a lot — from small town demographics to selected athletes from a large American city — these young men know how to earn their keep, set goals, meet responsibilities, and compete in a very difficult mix full of expectations and high marks. It looked like all shapes, classes, sizes, and examples of excellent young American men were represented.

    Kudos to all examples of greatness on that field: academically, socially, intellectually, physically, and emotionally.

    At any rate, the “call” represented subjective opinion by an official with the authority to do so. It is good journalism for reporters to seek out expert knowledge and print expert opinion. However, words like “typically” and “two yard cushion” where there are no marked areas to gauge exacts leaves a lot to the imagination (End Zone). Good or bad, it is hard not to give respect to all who play in any one-point, overtime contest, brought to you by the State’s best High School football teams.

    It would be acceptable to get an official opinion on the call using concrete terms, expert analogy and maybe an Attorney who played competitively. Other than that, it seems like there is too much room left to common subjective interpretation, against the call made by an authority. It would have been nice to see MHS hit another 2-pointer after the “call.”

  4. TheViper

    December 3, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    This is the first time in many years that the big bad Maryville Rebels had to play someone that could go toe to toe with them and they got caught, although it was a boarder line call Maryville sorta looked shell shocked the whole game. Whitehaven was staying with them play for play, it just goes to show anyone can be beat and Whitehaven never quit. Great game to watch. No dought Maryville will be back stronger than ever before.

  5. BD

    December 3, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    As a member of the Whitehaven group, I can tell you that it was a bad call. It was no worse than the roughing the holder call twice called on our player when he was shoved into him on both occasions, or allowing Maryville to force a re-kick punt on a deadball foul, which is supposed to be marked from the spot that the ball is downed. Most of the bad calls resulted in a gain or loss of points for a team. In the end, there was still 45 seconds on the clock after the 2 point conversion call, plus overtime, so Maryville still had opportunities to overcome it. Great game, and it bothers me that some members of the Maryville fan-based are spoiled enough with their winning to try to lessen a moment 60 years in the making for the Whitehaven community. Don’t mar a great run by the Rebel team this year by harping on one call in the championship game. Celebrate that Coach Quarles and his staff took a relatively young team compared to last year’s squad and made it all the way to the championship game, and had a lead for much of the game. Kudos to the Rebels, and I hope we give you a shot at revenge next year with our young squad.

  6. Mark Bates

    December 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Unfortunately the writer of this article does not know much about football and wrote his opinion based on interpretation. First & foremost the conversion is still an offensive play run from the 3-yard line not the 2-yard line as the writer insinuates in interpreting the “official” two yard cushion explanation. So if the blocker was engaged beyond the goal line as the replay clearly showed he was almost 4 yards downfield engaged in the secondary. The Umpire in this situation is responsible for stepping to the line of scrimmage as soon as he reads pass & look for lineman who are past him. Since this is is a difficult point to reach Umpires of which I am one are taught to get to the edge of the expanded nuetral zone which is one yard on either side of the ball which in this case was the 2-yard line. The umpire was clearly at this point and the lineman was two yards beyond the umpire engaged clearly with a linebacker who was clearly in the secondary of the defense. The NFHS rule book on lineman downfield would have been a good place to start your research online instead of hearsay through a phone call. Quit your crying. They got beat & they broke the rule on the play.

    • Stephen Kiningham

      December 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      I think there’s a picture that will be posted on this site from the game last Saturday that you should look at before you write your own “opinion based on interpretation.” You also seem to think that the writer of this article is somehow biased in favor of Maryville. Really? Stefan Cooper went to Alcoa.

    • Anonymous

      December 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      Mr. Bates I guess you did not watch the play or you are seeing things. #50 was nowhere near 4 yards down field and he was also not engaged for that matter.

    • Caleb Law

      December 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

      No, you’re wrong. MARYVILLE’S LINEMAN WAS STILL BLOCKING WHITEHAVEN’S LINEMAN, even though he may have been past the 2-yard mark, so he wasn’t just running downfield without blocking anyone (like a reciever before a pass). THAT’s why this call was incorrect. Please understand that most everyone aren’t just whining, but are stating an error made by an official. Also, I heard somewhere that this official was fired sometime afterwards. I wonder if it’s true?

  7. Big Ole Rondie

    December 3, 2012 at 9:07 am

    It was a great play executed to perfection just like in practice, actually better than in practice. I’m proud of our coaches and players. We won that game. Everyone felt the electricity in the air when the play was executed. There are no words to describe what everyone felt when the points were taken off the board.

    Good job to #50 (it was a bad call) and the O line you dominated all year and had your way against the 300lb linemen from Memphis who will play on Saturday next year. With only one returning starter from 2011 you silenced the critics who said you would be the weakness of this 2012 team. Ellis coached you up, you bought in, and became the strength of the team. 2013 will look the same with one returning starter.

    Maryville Juniors, today is the first day to begin preparing for your senior season and becoming the leaders of the 2013 6A State Championship Team! Make a commitment to getting stronger, quicker and more agile in the off season. Can’t wait to see what coach Waters has in store for our young men! Go Rebels!

  8. Bill Townsend

    December 3, 2012 at 1:04 am

    We, my wife and I, are the Very Proud Grandparents of #39 Haden Townsend, MLB,MHS Football, and we feel that when you get to as important a game as a State Championship game, that a video review process should be utilized to give a true picture of any questionable situation. After all this may not be the end of football for some of the Seniors, but could very well be the beginning of a great future for some of them, and it is too important to let an individual determine something as important as a “critical” call, kill the “spark” or “heart” of a young man, and /or a team…

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