Wide receiver rips away a Utah Hail Mary victory … or does he?

Cameron Smith
September 14, 2011

Much of America watched Sunday night's primetime NFL faceoff between the Jets and Cowboys with interest. Most will recall the game with a focus on late errors made by Tony Romo, but earlier in the game, Cowboys wide receiver turned Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie into the victim, ripping away a seemingly certain interception and turning it into a key touchdown in one fell swoop.

It turns out that play was preceded by an almost identical play in a Utah high school game just two days before. The difference is that the Utah prep play was much more impactful, with the result of an entire game in the balance after a Hail Mary pass was thrown with just 1 second on the clock.

As documented in detail by both the Salt Lake Tribune and Provo Daily Herald, the much-hyped matchup between Mountain View (Utah) High and Timpview (Utah) High came down to a final drive. Trailing 25-21 with just more than a minute to go, Timpview drove within shouting distance of the end zone, finding itself at the Mountain View 21-yard line with just 1 second remaining. After taking the final snap, Timpview quarterback Jake Lloyd scrambled but found little open. With nowhere else to look, he tossed up a prayer to the right side of the end zone, to where star receiver Ricky Shumway was running a fade pattern. 

When the ball came down, Shumway was there. Unfortunately for Timpview, so was a Mountain View defender. And, as the ball came down, it appeared clear that the game would end on a dramatic Mountain View interception, sending the Thunderbirds to a tough early season loss.

That's when Shumway sprung into action, ripping the ball free as he and his defender rolled into the end zone. Officials saw the ball briefly in Shumway's possession and instantly signaled for a game-winning touchdown.

As Timpview players ecstatically charged onto the field to celebrate a truly unlikely 27-25 victory, Mountain View coaches and players angrily complained that Shumway never had possession of the ball. The video above shows that the Bruins might just have a point. While Shumway clearly ripped the ball out of the Mountain View defender's possession before he could retain it for an interception, it's hard to see how he would have held it for long enough for the pass to count as a completion … and the game-winning touchdown as was credited.

If nothing else, the call makes a clear case for why Utah and other state high school associations might want to at least consider video replay. While such procedures would be almost impossible to institute in an ongoing basis -- most games across the nation are still not televised live, after all -- a retroactive touchdown review tribunal might make results from across the country significantly more accurate.

That's only more important when both teams are likely playoff contenders, and possibly even playoff opponents. Can you imagine what will happen if Timpview and Mountain View face off again the playoffs.

For his part, Mountain View football coach Jon Snyder said he was confident that the disappointing end to his team's game would make them better in the long haul … even if it was hard to swallow after trying to digest additional video evidence.

"Ultimately, this game is just going to make us better," Snyder told the Tribune. "Sometimes things aren't fair, and the best thing for us is to move on and get ready for Provo next week."

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