By now, you've almost certainly seen the YouTube clip entitled "Epic Football Fail." Over the course of a season-opening high school football weekend across the country, the highlight -- or lowlight, depending on your perspective -- was ubiquitous.
Through all the hype, no one has been able to pinpoint exactly where the play occurred ... until now. Thanks to help from a loyal reader and confirmation from a player involved in the play itself, Prep Rally has learned that the football blunder to end all football blunders was committed by a Nimitz (Texas) High School junior varsity running back during a September 2009 game against the JV squad of The Woodlands College Park (Texas). Most importantly, Prep Rally can confirm that the turnover and touchdown definitely happened just the way the play unfolded on video, as far fetched as that may seem.
How did we solve this gossipberry.com mystery? (gossipberry.com is the site credited at the end of the "Epic Football Fail" video.) One of the play's key protagonists came to us with details about the game in which it occurred.
"I should be able to clarify anything for you seeing as how I was the one who scored the touchdown in the video (No. 30)," The Woodlands College Park senior linebacker Angelo Cruz wrote to Prep Rally in an email.
Upon further investigation, all the facets of Cruz's story that are easily verifiable check out. The senior is now a varsity player for The Woodlands College Park, but played on the team's junior varsity blue squad in 2009. TWCP has so many players that it splits its roster into two separate JV teams: silver for sophomores and blue for juniors.
Cruz's claim gets additional support from the YouTube video you see directly below, in which TWCP varsity offensive lineman Jack Costello is wearing the team's white away jersey, the opposite of what Cruz and his teammates wore in "Epic Football Fail." (Junior varsity and varsity squads traditionally play at opposite sites, so it's likely that TWCP would have hosted the JV game a day or more before its varsity team traveled to Nimitz). Additionally, the helmets worn by both teams in Costello's highlight clip and "Epic Football Fail" are identical, confirming that TWCP and Nimitz played the game in question. In this case, Cruz claims that TWCP's blue JV was facing off against the Nimitz junior varsity. The game allegedly ended in a TWCP rout, though Cruz couldn't recall the final score.
"I don't know the specific date, but it was around September of 2009," Cruz said. (TWCP's varsity team played Nimitz on Sep. 19, 2009.) "Again, I can't remember the details precisely, but I do remember it was a lot to a little, something like 35-0."
While those salient details may have faded, Cruz intimated he still remembers the dramatic play now seen around the world as if it happened yesterday.
"I was actually in disbelief for a second, I said to myself 'Really? Did that just happen?' because I could clearly see him throwing the ball in the air, but this was only for a brief second because of course instinct kicked in and I just ran to jump on it. But it was one of the craziest things I've witnessed.
[Video: Team runs 'worst trick play ever']
"We celebrated. We were all really happy because we had been wrecking them all game long and then we scored on defense and that was kinda the icing on the cake, to be cliché. Nimitz was really confused though. The coach was in awe with a sort of blank look on his face, and their sideline was really quiet."
The confounded look on Nimitz's coach's face was certainly understandable, as it's now been mirrored by viewers of "Epic Football Fail" from around the globe. We may never see anything quite like it again, but at least now we can confirm that it absolutely was an authentic high school football moment.
"I knew it was crazy, but I always assumed there had been more ridiculous things that had happened," Cruz said. "We were all super surprised to learn that this video/play got as much attention as it did."
[More big football fails: Five most embarrassing Super Bowl moments]