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Washington team returns blocked field-goal attempt to win game because foe didn’t play to the whistle

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

On Monday, Prep Rally brought you a powerful reminder from New Jersey of precisely why it's important to play until you hear the whistle. Even that wasn't as much of a gut punch as what unfolded in a wild finish in Washington.

The video you see above depicts the final play of what was eventually adjudged to be a Vancouver (Wa.) Columbia River High victory against Vancouver (Wa.) Skyview High. The Skyview Storm was nursing a 24-23 lead in the closing seconds of the game when Columbia River lined up for a last second, 32-yard field goal. The kick was blocked, sending Skyview players and fans streaming toward the sideline in a moment reminiscent of the famous scenes from Cal and Stanford's "The Play".

Thinking the game was over, Skyview's players erupted in wild celebrations on the field. There was just one problem: The ball had never crossed the line of scrimmage -- the block had knocked the ball a few yards behind where it was snapped -- which meant that it was still a live ball.

As reported by the Columbian, noting that a whistle had never blown, Columbia River's Reese Keller ran over to the ball and scooped it up, high tailing it toward the end zone. By the time Skyline realized what had just happened it was too late, with Keller trotting in for a game-winning score in Columbia River's incredibly unlikely 29-24 victory.

Making matters all the more painful was that a Skyview player had a chance to kill the ball after the block. All he had to do is jump on the ball; instead he got up and rushed away to celebrate with his teammates.

According to the Columbian, Skyview officials investigated the possibility of appealing the result, but after re-watching the final play a number of times they determined that there was no case to be made. The game was over, Columbia River had won and Skyview had nothing to do but lick its wounds and play until the whistle next time.

"It clearly showed the refs got the call right," Vancouver public schools athletic director Mick Hoffman told the Columbian. "River made the play. It's a game for the ages, and a million different stories will come out of it.

"In general, a lot of people question the quality of officials everywhere. They got it right."

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