It's not very often that a football player lets the football be stripped from his hands for strategic reasons. Somehow that move actually made sense during a game between Bergen (N.J.) Catholic High and Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy. Even more incredibly, that very decision led to a touchdown, possibly avoiding an interception or fumble in the process.
You can see the play that led to that remarkable duality above, but here's essentially how it unfolded: Bergen Catholic quarterback Jonathan Germano dropped back and lofted a pass down the left sideline for star receiver J.J. Kulcsar. Yet Germano's pass was a bit underthrown, forcing Kulcsar to get a bit physical to ensure he would be the man to come down with the ball.
In the end, he was the one to pull in the reception … or so it appeared. Yet that wasn't necessarily determined when the ball first landed in Kulcsar's hands, with a Friendship Collegiate defender wrapping him up. Kulcsar was left with one option: Bear hug the defender and the pass to hold on for a reception. It worked, and he was able to maintain control of the ball, as unlikely as that may have seemed.
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Yet the Friendship defender wasn't giving up yet, continuing to try to drag the receiver down and potentially separate him from the ball. Instead, Kulcsar held on for his life, all while inching his way toward the end zone. In fact, the progress toward the goal line was so glacial that it allowed one of his teammates and a second Friendship defender to arrive on the scene right around the 1-yard line.
At that point, the outcome of the play was anyone's guess. Kulscar could have been brought down at the 1. Equally, he could have been stripped of the ball, leaving a mad scramble for a loose ball. Instead, the star receiver avoided both of those outcomes with a rather innovative move, essentially handing off the ball to teammate James Dawson, who came in behind the defender's back as well.
Dawson trotted into the end zone for a touchdown while both Germano and Kulcsar received credit for the pass and catch, part of a 355-yard, school-record performance from the quarterback.
As it turns out, that touchdown was essentially for Bergen Catholic, too, with the New Jersey powerhouse needing a final-minute field goal to force overtime at 42-42, setting the stage for Kulcsar to come through again, pulling in a game-winning touchdown grab in the contest's first overtime, earning Bergen Catholic a 48-42 victory.
While the overtime touchdown might have been the game-winner, there's little doubt about which catch Kulcsar and his teammates will remember in the years ahead. After all, it's not every day that you intentionally hand the ball over while being pulled down and create a touchdown rather than lose one.
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