This year thanks to a new rule in college football touchdowns can be called back for celebrations that occur on the field. In a Louisville,Ohio high school game this past weekend wide receiver Alex Schooley caught a touchdown pass with 1:15 left to give his team a 26-24 lead. Overcome with emotion, Schooley and a teammate pointed to the heavens. Only the players weren’t doing it to draw attention to themselves. When he scored Schooley was honoring a 16 year old former classmate who died in a Monday traffic accident.
Schooley was a pallbearer in the funeral on Friday, the day of the game. His point to the heavens was a tribute to his friend.
Officials didn’t see it that way, penalizing the Louisville Leopards for excessive celebration. Quoth the officiating supervisor:
“Assistant Ohio High School Athletic Association Commissioner Henry Zaborniak tells Fox 8 News that the penalty was appropriate by the rules.
Zaborniak says while the rule may be open to some interpretation, ‘any prolonged gesture that draws attention to himself is a foul.'”
And in this case pointing to the Heavens was an excessive celebration. As a result, the opposing team received favorable field position, drove down the field, and kicked a field goal as time expired. The Louisville Leopards lost by a single point, 27-26.
Even casting aside the question of whether the official knew the motivation behind the gesture — reportedly, he didn’t — was this really a celebration penalty? A team scores with 1:15 left to take the lead and this is excessive?
Decide for yourself by watching the video of the score.