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Dr. Saturday

Anatomy of Andre Parker’s now infamous wrong-way fumble return for Kent State

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

When the first weekend of college football is over, Kent State linebacker Andre Parker may end up being the most uttered name — for all the wrong reasons.

During Kent State's 41-21 win over Towson, Parker picked up a muffed punt and advanced it 58 yards — in the wrong direction. Of course, you can't advance a muffed punt (the play was actually called back and Kent State kicked a field goal), but the fact that the play happened and was never initially blown down by officials made for high comedy as Parker, a sophomore who had played sparingly last season, joined the likes of Roy Riegels and Jim Marshall as infamous wrong-way runners.

But after looking at the replay about a dozen times, I thought it was important to point out the multiple layers of ridiculousness that made this play possible. So here's a frame-by-frame look at Parker's unfortunate moment of fame:

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Here's where it all begins. The punt bounces and Towson returner Derrick Joseph tries to field it and it goes through his hands. By this time, Parker has already run past Joseph and is looking at the returner and the ball.

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Joseph apparently is the only one on the field who has read his rule book because he immediately stops and starts waving off he play as Parker goes running off in the wrong direction.

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Parker must be failing all math classes at Kent State. He's already run 40 yards downfield from where the ball was punted to where he picked it up, but in his mind, it makes more sense that his end zone would be 93 yards away instead of 7 when he picks up the ball. So off he goes.

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I blame this guy for setting this whole thing in motion. Had all the Towson players just left him alone, Parker might have gotten the idea that he was doing something wrong. Instead, this dude dives to tackle him triggering something in the brains of the other Towson players — all of whom should have known better - that Parker apparently knows some secret rules to the game and must be stopped before he gives them two points.

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See No. 16 for Towson here? That would be receiver Erron Banks and quite possibly the only player at this point running the right direction. He gets bowled over by a Kent State player who is either blocking for Parker or trying frantically to stop him.

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This is one of my favorite frames. These two Towson guys at the bottom of the screen are cheering Parker on. Pointing him in the direction of their end zone, jumping up and down and encouraging his misfortune.

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OK, these three guys should all be benched. What are you thinking? Everyone on the Towson sideline is yelling for them to let Parker go and they gang tackle him out of bounds. I understand it's instinct, but clearly no one in this game knew whose end zone was whose.

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Check out this coach, trainer, GA, whatever he is clearly pointing that Parker was going the wrong way.

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And here comes another coach (I think secondary coach Brian Fleury) to nicely inform his players that they are all a part of college football history.

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There are a couple good things in this shot. Another coach comes in to continue to tell the tackling players just how dumb they are while No. 21, senior receiver Tom Ryan, is basically laughing about the whole ordeal.

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Here we have cornerback Darius Polk dragging Parker off the field by his jersey like a mom would drag a child out of a store for touching something he shouldn't have. Maybe if Polk gets him off the field quickly enough, no one will notice that this was one of the dumbest plays in college football history and will be replayed over and over for the rest of the year.

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And here's the sad realization of what happened. However, it's unclear whether Parker was just told he ran the wrong way or that you can't advance a muffed punt? Since his reaction seems to be more disappointment than embarrassment, I'm thinking it's the latter.

As noted above, Parker, who was unknown before the night started, is now part of college football lore. He'll always be the guy who ran the wrong way.

After Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall picked up a fumble against the San Francisco 49ers and ran it 66 yards into his own end zone back in 1964, he received a letter from Roy Reigels, who had done something similar in the 1929 Rose Bowl as a center for Cal. The letter said, "Welcome to the club!"

Reigels has since passed away, but Marshall is 74 and still around. Perhaps he needs to pay it forward to Andre Parker.

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