They say desperate times call for desperate measures, and there are few moments more desperate than facing a 4th and 32 with two minutes left in the game trailing by 16. That's exactly the situation Rutgers found itself in on Saturday against No. 17 Indiana. The Scarlett Knights dug into their bag of tricks, and the result was nothing short miraculous:
Eight laterals and 33 seconds was all it took for pigs to fly and hell to freeze over. The glorious moment was, unfortunately, short-lived, as replay review showed a lateral by wide receiver Shameen Jones at the 35-yard line was thrown forward, negating the Piscataway Prayer in a cruel twist of fate.
Aside from actually counting, this play had everything, and choosing a favorite moment is a real 'Sophie's Choice' scenario. Here are a few standouts for consideration:
- The first truly transcendent moment of beauty and grace comes around the 9-second mark. By this point, the play has already seen two laterals and regressed to six yards behind the original line of scrimmage when offensive linemen Raiqwon O'Neal enters the fray. He scoops up a wild lateral from quarterback Noah Vedral that bounces off the turf and, after corralling the ball and immediately being swarmed by Indiana defenders, flings the ball backwards over his head like a bride tossing a bouquet.
- The ball somehow finds Jones, who caught the original pass from Vedral to start the play. He stumbles around the 30-yard line and is going down at the 35-yard line before throwing the ill-fated forward lateral.
- The ball ends up in the hands of offensive lineman Sam Vretman, who by this point has run more on one play than any offensive lineman should ever have to. He immediately hands it off to running back Aaron Young, who pitches it back to Vedral.
- Vedral throws the ball toward the sideline to wideout Bo Melton, who follows his convoy of blockers and wins the footrace to the end zone.
The play might not have officially counted, but it was a joy to watch and will live on forever in the hearts of all who saw it (and especially so for those who bet on Indiana to cover the 11-point spread).