GLENDALE, Ariz. - The high-scoring Oregon Ducks found a way to score on a blocked extra point, getting the rarest of all calls: a one-point safety.
In the Fiesta Bowl, Kansas State defensive lineman Javonta Boyd blocked an extra point after Oregon had taken a 31-10 lead in the third quarter. In the NFL the play would be dead, but it is a live ball in college. That's why the weirdness started.
The ball didn't make it into the end zone. Defensive end Ryan Mueller corralled it out of the air at about the 2-yard line. Knowing the Wildcats could return it for a 2-point conversion of their own, he retreated and tried to get around the end. His problem was, he had retreated into his own end zone.
Mueller was caught in the end zone, and as he was being dragged down he tried to lateral it to teammate Allen Chapman, who was brought down in the end zone.
If you knew what the ruling was, congratulations. It's from the dustiest pages of the rule book. If a defensive player goes back into his end zone after grabbing a missed conversion and is tackled there, it is a one-point safety. All other safeties, such as when an offensive player is tackled with the ball in the end zone, are worth two points.
"I've never heard of a one-point safety rule," Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown said.
"We got a safety for one point today, and I had no idea what that was," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "When they told me they were going to give us one point, I said, 'We'll take it.'"
A blog named Quirky Research listed four known one-point safeties in all levels of college football, and just two from Division I: from a NAIA Division II game in 1996, from a junior-college game in 1996, from a 2004 game between Texas and Texas A&M, and then the Fiesta Bowl was the fourth.
In that Texas-Texas A&M game, a snap on Texas' extra-point attempt was dropped and the kicker hit a ground ball off the ground that went into the end zone. A Texas A&M player fell on it and was tackled in the end zone for the one-point safety. The coaches in that game were caught off guard by the rule.
"I'm a little embarrassed," Texas coach Mack Brown said, according to the Associated Press game story from that day. "I didn't know that was a rule."
Said A&M coach Dennis Franchione, "I don't know that I've ever seen a one-point safety. That was a unique call."
The odds of that happening in any game are astronomical, much less in a high-profile BCS game.
So for everyone who was watching and saw it, consider yourselves lucky. It might be a very long time before you see a one-point safety again.
"It's one of those weird things that happens, I guess," quarterback Collin Klein said.
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