Western Kentucky’s odd fourth-down gamble makes Little Caesars Pizza Bowl memorable

Frank Schwab
December 27, 2012

The most lackluster of all bowl matchups at least produced an interesting talking point.

Put yourself in the role of coach: Western Kentucky trailed 24-21 but - thanks in large part to recovering its own fumble on a third-down conversion - moved deep into Central Michigan territory late in the fourth quarter. With 51 seconds left, the Hilltoppers had a fourth and 2 at CMU's 19-yard line.

You kick the field goal and try to tie the game, right? Well, Western Kentucky interim coach Lance Guidry didn't feel that way.

The Hilltoppers went for it instead of attempting a field goal of about 36 yards for the tie, and threw an incomplete pass. Central Michigan won 24-21.

What made the decision even more perplexing is that Western Kentucky isn't that bad in the kicking game. Kicker Garrett Schwettman was 10-of-13 on field-goal attempts during the regular season. He was just 2-of-5 on attempts of 30 yards or longer, but it still seemed like the right play was to try a game-tying field goal. Central Michigan ran out the clock after the failed fourth-down attempt.

Coaches typically are way too conservative on fourth down, so we don't want to discourage being aggressive, but this is a spot where trying the field goal seemed to make the most sense. But Guidry was getting one shot to coach Western Kentucky in a bowl game, and apparently he wanted to go out with a bang.

At least that call made the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl a little more interesting.

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