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Notre Dame Football: Some LSU Fans Are Still Salty About That No Touchdown Call

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He was short. Or he was in. \_(ツ)_/¯ It doesn’t really matter, even if Tigers fans think it does.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Do you remember the LSU Tigers scoring a touchdown on a fake field goal against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish before halftime in the 2014 Music City Bowl? Officially, it never happened — but Tigers fans haven’t forgotten what may have been the deciding score.

Let’s revisit the play now that it’s been announced that the Tigers and Irish will again clash in a bowl this season.

THE LEAD-UP

The Irish kicked the ball back to the Tigers with about six minutes remaining before the half, having just taken a 21-14 lead. The Tigers string together five first downs against a injury-ravaged defense led by Brian VanGorder and now have 1st down and goal at the five-yard-line with 30 seconds on the game clock. The game is being officiated by Pac-12 refs.

FIRST DOWN AND FIVE

The Tigers struggled in the red zone in 2014, finishing 87th in red zone conversion percentage. They had 37 scores (18 rush TD, 8 pass TD and 11 FG) in 47 red zone attempts - which means they were scoring a touchdown on 55 percent of their tries. (A typical college team is about 70 percent; Notre Dame was 64.5 percent that year.)

“Two timeouts. They can run the ball down here if they want — a couple of times,” intones ESPN analyst Rod Gilmore.

The play call is ostensibly for a pass, but the Irish line collectively gets a good push against the LSU offensive line and the pocket collapses on sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings.

Jennings ducks his head down into the mass of humanity and hopes for the best. He meets the immovable force that is Irish junior linebacker Jaylon Smith, who stands him up while freshman Nyles Morgan jumps on the pile.

Loss of two.

LSU takes a timeout.

SECOND DOWN AND SEVEN

“That is all bad,” Gilmore says on the telecast of the first down outcome. “You try to throw it. You don’t stop the clock. You don’t gain any yardage. Now you’ve got one timeout. You almost have to throw now.”

The Tigers do not throw.

Freshman defensive lineman Andrew Trumbetti comes off the edge unmolested and smacks senior running back Terrence Magee...who does not have the ball. Jennings keeps it on the read-option and is stood up after a gain of about four yards from Irish sophomore safety Max Redfield.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

LSU exhausts their final timeout. Seventeen seconds remain.

THIRD DOWN AND THREE

Gilmore, 0-for-2 in guessing plays, now suggests the Tigers do not have time for running. It’s got to be a pass.

“If you’re throwing it, Rod, who are your best chances at this part of the field?” play-by-play man Mark Jones asks.

“They struggle with that. I like Jeter because he’s so long, so tall,” said Gilmore. “He’s better at receiving than he is blocking. I think he’s in there for that reason. Obviously, Dural is their best receiver, but he’s more of a speed guy down here.”

It is a pass. Sophomore Colin Jeter does a fantastic job of blocking Smith on the back end of the play, while Jennings and the line move away from him.

Jennings flips to wide receiver John Diarse. The throw is a little low and graduate cornerback Cody Riggs is blanketing the redshirt freshman. Diarse gets pushed out of bounds after a gain of just one.

FOURTH DOWN AND TWO

Twelve seconds remain, although the time clock feels less relevant. There is no first down, so it’s either you score or you don’t.

LSU’s freshman kicker Trent Domingue skitters onto the field. Junior quarterback Brad Kragthorpe is his holder. Although set up on the left hash, this is a chip shot field goal — about 19 yards. Domingue just replaced the struggling Colby Delahoussaye in the game prior to the bowl, but he’s 2-for-3 on the year so far.

“Watch out for the trick plays. It is Les Miles’ team,” Jones foreshadows on the broadcast. The Irish rush just five of their 11 players, almost as if they’re preparing for that contingency as well.

IT’S A FAKE!

Domingue doesn’t sell it very well, but Kragthorpe springs up from his knees at nine yard line and sees an opening on the left side of the line. Junior defensive lineman Sheldon Day has been wedged between the center and the guard next to him. Junior defensive end Romeo Okwara is so far in a stalemate with the lineman to that guard’s immediate left. Smith and junior safety Elijah Shumate haven’t moved from the goal line, but now there’s a 6-foot-4, 295 pound tight end Dillon Gordon moving Smith’s way.

Smith tries to dodge him by shooting left, which gives Gordon the leverage he needs to erase the talented linebacker from the play. It also has a doubling effect as the Gordon/Smith block briefly obscures Shumate, who is still on the goal line.

Magee, who was the right-most edge blocker when the play started, is now Kragthorpe’s blocker. They’ve got Shumate to beat.

Okwara pushes his man and clogs Magee’s lane. Magee adjusts, but not before running into Kragthrope and losing his balance. If Magee keeps his feet, he probably takes out Shumate without any issue and Kragthorpe may scoot untouched into the end zone.

Instead, Shumate only has to contend with Magee’s weak block from his knees. Kragthorpe inexplicably begins to dart to his blocker’s outside for a brief moment, when the obvious daylight is back towards the middle.

Gordon doesn’t continue his block on Smith, who is now coming back to the play. Smith leaps over a falling Shumate and Magee and dives for Kragthorpe, who is now extending his arms with the football around the one-yard-line.

Rob Fleming / The Daily Herald

Kragthorpe ducks low, catching only a piece of Smith’s tackle and also evading Redfield, who went high.

Bill Feig / The Advocate

From ESPN’s initial camera angle, Kragthorpe appears short.

Both Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and LSU coach Les Miles celebrate as if their team has prevailed.

“HE DIDN’T GET IN! NO SIGNAL! IT’S SHORT! NOTRE DAME...STONES THEM! ” Jones exclaims.

The Observer (Notre Dame)

“THE PLAY IS UNDER REVIEW”

ESPN shows its first replay. Instead of the initial view — which is end zone to end zone — they’ve switched to a camera on the short side (left side) of the field.

“OHHHHHH! That’s breaking the plane there, look at that!” Gilmore says, using a replay that’s difficult to tell where Kragthorpe’s knee is at that given moment.

“Was he down though or...?” Jones trails off.

“Well, from that angle, it looked like he broke the plane,” said Gilmore, which is not an answer to Jones’ question.

ESPN tries three different angles. Nothing seems definitive, although a few show Kragthorpe appearing to break the plane of the goal line with the nose of the football.

“He was apparently breaking the plane of goal and was then pulled back,” Jones adds, which, again, doesn’t answer if his knee was down.

While the teams await the official review, Gilmore says, “I don’t think you have enough to see the knee and the ball to overturn that call on the field.”

The review takes 4 minutes, 22 seconds. The call stands. There’s a noticeable roar from the Notre Dame contingent.

“Obviously, we were aware of the fake, an opportunity that there could be a fake in there,” Kelly tells a sideline reporter at halftime. “Our guys just rallied to it and made a great — that’s a great stand for us. And it gives us a lot of confidence going into the half.”

After the game, Kelly makes fun of himself for trying to outguess The Mad Hatter.

“It was interesting because I had a number of guys in my ear to take a timeout. And I didn’t want to take a timeout, because I didn’t want to prompt them to go back to the sideline and think about calling a fake so that’s how smart I am,” he said.

Miles obviously doesn’t see it as a great goal-line stand, telling the school’s radio broadcast that his coaches up in the press box told him that Kragthorpe scored. He’s still adamant after the game.

“Just before the half, they tell me that with all the review I could get from the field, that ball crosses the goal line,” Miles said. “If that’s the case, then we need a better way to communicate that to us. We need to see it better on the field. ... [Kragthorpe] said he absolutely scored. Kids will be kids, but this guy’s going to tell the truth. He’s going to tell it to you straight.”

LSU FANS STILL HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN

SO DID HE GET IN?

Some LSU fans have examined this replay like we’ve all watched the Zapruder film or Michigan fans look at that J.T. Barrett fourth-down-conversion-that-maybe-was(n’t).

I can see their point, but I hope they realize: It doesn’t matter. LSU literally scored on first play of the first offensive series after halftime to tie the game at 21 apiece. The Tigers had plenty of chances without that fake field goal to win the game and did not close the deal. And to say that the second half would have played out on the same trajectory if the score were tied at halftime versus the actual trajectory is preposterous.

Poll

Should the officials given LSU the touchdown on the fake field goal during the 2014 Music City Bowl?

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Hell no. The original call was that he was short and there was no indisputable evidence to overturn.
    (465 votes)
  • 43%
    Yeah. He was in. Pac-12 refs got it wrong.
    (363 votes)
828 votes total Vote Now