This is called “The Play” and it’s one of the most amazing plays in College Football history. Ever. (okay, maybe i’m just a little bit biased.)
It’s November 20, 1982. It’s the Big Game between Cal and StanfUrd. The ‘Furd had just scored a field goal to take the lead and the score stood at 20-19. There’s only 4 seconds left on the clock. FOUR SECONDS. In a last minute decision, the Stanfurd Special Teams coach called for a squib kick (you know, a short, low, line drive). Big mistake bud.
That’s 5 lateral passes. Count that. FIVE.
And announcer, Joe Starkey had praised Stanfurd up till that point and commented, “Only a miracle can save the Bears now.”
He got his miracle all right. And wow, his excitement as he screams “The Bears have won! The Bears have won!” just adds to the drama and excitement to this scene.
Of course there’s controversy that surrounds this Play (especially to whether 2 of the laterals were illegal), but that just adds to the legend of the Play. First, there’s the claim that on the third lateral, Garner’s (the carrier) knee had touched the ground before he passed the ball. Inconclusive. Then on the fifth lateral, there is the question of whether it was actually an illegal forward pass. Ford was being tackled on the 27 yard line when he blindly threw the ball over his shoulder, and Moen was crossing the 25 yard line when he reached for it. Physics in the works. Everyone is sort of moving forward at that point, and by the time Moen grabs the ball, he has to reach sort of behind him for it. Most who have reviewed the tapes conclude that at the very least, the ball traveled laterally on the 25 yard line.
The Stafurd band had also already stormed the field.
That would have been a penalty anyway — how severe? Maybe a Cal touchdown? Who knows. Because the referees declared that Cal had won, it mooted Stanfurd’s interference penalty.
I love me my Cal Bears & College Football. ❤
**PS, WANTED: good highlights to this year’s Big Game.**