Ever since 1978's "Miracle at the Meadowlands" — when the Philadelphia Eagles' Herman Edwards ran back a New York Giants' fumble for a winning touchdown at the end of the game — football teams began defaulting to the now-standard "take a knee" strategy.
When the quarterback of the team in the lead takes a knee, it allows his team to essentially run out the clock when there's no more need to advance the ball. The play has sealed victories countless times in an attempt to ensure the dreaded "miracle" doesn't happen.
Well, another miracle victory has occurred.
The Spanish Fork Dons were beating the Maple Mountain Golden Eagles 14-11 Tuesday — just 3.7 seconds from advancing to Utah's high school football tournament. Spanish Fork had the ball on fourth down, and quarterback Jason Money got the shotgun snap from center.
Money (#10) began running away from the pursuing Golden Eagle defenders toward the far sideline as the clock expired.
But football games don't end just because there's no time left on the clock — the final play from scrimmage has to be completed.
Instead Money slowed down and came to an almost complete stop just before running out of bounds, holding the football with one hand as Maple Mountain players converged upon him.
It's unclear if Money dropped the ball or if it was stripped, but the football suddenly hit the grass — and to everyone's shock, Maple Mountain senior defensive back Brandon Beebe picked it up and ran it into the end zone, just before Money tacked him from behind.
Pandemonium ensued among the Golden Eagles over the incredible play, not to mention the final score: Maple Mountain 17, Spanish Fork 14.
A key for the play seems to be that since it was fourth down, Money taking an immediate knee could have resulted in a change of possession with perhaps a second or two remaining for Maple Mountain's offense — which Spanish Fork clearly wouldn't have wanted.
Larry Brown Sports echoed that probability, adding that "all Money had to do was run out the clock (which he did successfully) and then give himself up or throw the ball away. He forgot about the latter part, and we can only imagine how horrible he must feel. You hate to see that happen to anyone."
After players collected themselves and lined up for post-game handshakes, Money remained his sideline with coaches, understandably dejected after the heartbreaking loss.
For Beebe, it was the opposite emotion.
“It might have been the last play of my career,” he told KSL-TV. “I might as well give it my all, and I did just that. It was a good play.”
Maple Mountain Head Coach Brad Burtenshaw noted it was about playing every second to the end.
“Honestly, the credit for that intellectual play goes to the players,” he told KSL. “They just kept playing, and nobody heard a whistle. We’ve preached that to our kids all year: play ’til the whistle."
TheBlaze reached out to Spanish Fork Head Coach Kirk Chambers to find out what was behind the final play, but the message wasn't immediately returned.
Steve Dudley, athletic director for Spanish Fork, told TheBlaze on Wednesday that in regard to their quarterback, fellow players are being "supportive of Jason. I think we're good."