Hey, football fans! Have you ever seen a one-point safety? Well, you have now:
What looked an ordinary blocked extra point in Thursday's night Fiesta Bowl between Oregon and Kansas State was actually one of the true "White Whale" scenarios in the sport. Following a touchdown run by Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota to put the Ducks ahead in the third quarter, 31-10, K-State cornerback Allen Chapman was tackled in his own end zone after the blocked kick was recovered in the field of play. According to the NCAA rulebook:
ARTICLE 1. It is a safety when:
a. The ball becomes dead out of bounds behind a goal line, except from an incomplete forward pass, or becomes dead in the possession of a player on, above or behind his own goal line, or becomes dead by rule, and the defending team is responsible for the ball being there. (A.R. 6-3-1-IV; A.R. 7-2-4-I; A.R. 8-5-1-I-II, IV and VI-VIII; A.R. 8-7-2-II; and A.R. 9-4-1-VIII).
When in question, it is a touchback, not a safety.
It is not a safety if a player between his five-yard line and his goal line:
(a) intercepts a pass or fumble; or recovers an opponent's fumble or backward pass; or catches or recovers a kick; and
(b) his original momentum carries him into his own end zone; and
(c) the ball remains behind his goal line and is declared dead in his team's possession there. This includes a fumble that goes from the end zone into the field of play and out of bounds (Rule 7-2-4-b-1).
Got all that? Kansas State did fulfill condition (a) under "Exception" by recovering a kick between its own five-yard line and goal line. The key, though, is that it failed to fulfill condition (b), because the ball didn't wind up in the end zone by the momentum of the recovery: The Wildcats were responsible for the backward run and lateral that resulted in Chapman being tackled behind the line themselves. As referee Ron Cherry explained:
An unusual ruling, indeed. Oregon 32, Kansas State 10.
The really weird thing? The play-by-play man calling the game for ESPN, Brad Nessler, has actually seen this incredibly rare feat before, in Texas' win over Texas A&M in 2004. "If I see another one," Nessler said Thursday night, "I'm retiring. I'm sorry." Here's guessing that will not be necessary.