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For those who were scoring at home (with updates)
2005-12-29 09:35
by Bob Timmermann

The final play of the Alamo Bowl appears on's boxscore as:

C. Henne passed to S. Breaston to the right for 11 yard gain. lateral to M. Hart. lateral to J. Avant. lateral to M. Manningham. lateral to J. Avant. J. Avant fumbled. M. Hart recovered fumble and returned for 7 yards. lateral to T. Ecker for 50 yards.

Double checking my copy of the NCAA Football Statistician's Manual (what you don't have one?), that scoring isn't complete. All the laterals need to be computed up to the point of the fumble. Once Avant fumbles, then the pass play is over and Henne gets credit for that yardage (which ultimately) would be negative. It would be something like this:

Henne -6 yards passing
Breaston 1 reception, 11 yards
Hart, -2 receiving yards, 7 yards + fumble recovery
Avant, -6 receiving yards
Manningham, -4 receiving yards
Ecker would get fumble recovery yardage but no credit for a fumble recovery

Update - found the official summary of the play this morning

M 2-10 M36 Henne, Chad pass complete to Avant, Jason to the MICH45, Manningham, M. for loss of 9 yards to the MICH36, Avant, Jason for loss of 4 yards to the
MICH32, Avant, Jason for loss of 4 yards to the MICH28, fumble by Avant,
Jason recovered by MICH Hart, Mike at MICH20, Hart, Mike for 9 yards to the
MICH29, Ecker, Tyler for loss of 4 yards to the MICH25, Ecker, Tyler for 62
yards to the NU13, 1ST DOWN MICH (Brothers, Titus).
I think this didn't get entered correctly. Because the video showed the pass went Henne to Avant to Breaston to Manningham to Avant who lateraled back to a lineman (I believe it was #54 Mark Bihl) who couldn't handle it (or chose not to) and then Hart picked it up and then lateraled to Ecker.

The truth may never be known....

Update - Dan McCarney in the San Antonio Express-News has a better description:

After Henne's pass:

Avant lateraled to Steve Breaston.

Breaston lateraled to Mike Hart.

Hart lateraled back to Avant.

Avant threw a backward pass to Mario Manningham.

Manningham lateraled back to Avant, who retreated all the way back to the Michigan 32.

From there, Avant threw a blind backward pass that glanced off the hands of center Mark Bihl at the 26.

Hart picked up the loose ball and lateraled to Tyler Ecker.

As the entire Nebraska sideline stormed the field and the celebration stand was wheeled into the South end zone, Ecker raced down the right sideline, where he was eventually forced out at the Nebraska 15 by Zackary Bowman and ex-Judson standout Titus Brothers.

The most amazing detail of all: Had Ecker been able to see behind him and to his left, he would have noticed Breaston wide open.

One more lateral, and Michigan could have scored.

If Ecker had scored, there would have been the problem of what about all the extra players on the field. Both teams had extra players on the field. However, under NCAA rules, that would have been an offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. And those are dead-ball penalties, so the touchdown would have counted.

Update - Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free-Press has the final total

Each player's final numbers: Henne received credit for one completion for 51 yards, Jason Avant got the reception credit for a total of minus-3 yards on his three touches, Breaston had no positive yard, Manningham lost 13 yards, Hart gained five, and Ecker gained 62 yards but had no catch.

So it appears that there was no fumble ruled on the play, just all receiving yards. I can die happy now.


2005-12-29 07:35:43
1.   Todd S
Good breakdown.
2005-12-29 09:49:05
2.   Suffering Bruin
Sad thing is, if Ecker would have lateraled, Michigan would have scored. He was hemmed in on the sidelines, sure, but I think with all the players on the field, Ecker might have thought the play was over anyway.

That or he was just gassed.

2005-12-29 09:50:20
3.   Suffering Bruin
And I see from re-reading the post that I'm surely not the only one who noticed.


I'm going outside.

2005-12-29 10:06:36
4.   Bob Timmermann
If Ecker had lateraled to Breaston, then I would have been perfect on picking the bowl games this season. The Alamo Bowl was my first wrong pick of the year.

I don't think Michigan is going to be using any Sun Belt crews in the near future.

2005-12-29 12:11:04
5.   Stevenalpert
I am in Vegas and I picked Michigan. So I got really hurt by Ecker's failure to lateral and the generally poor officiating. What was Ecker thinking not lateraling? Maybe he bet the other way? Seriously, as suffering bruin mentions, he must have figured the play was dead anyway. Luckily the Cal players did not assume anything like that 23 years ago. What I will always remember abou this play was how certainly Michigane would have scored if only Ecker did his job and did not get tackled with the ball. Better to lose fumbling and trying than just go down and lose for sure.

Manningham will be really famous some day.

2005-12-29 12:36:11
6.   Bob Timmermann
By the time Ecker was running down the field, he probably had tunnel vision since the goal line was so close.

The key to that play almost working was when the Michigan center opted not to catch Avant's last lateral. That made everybody freeze on the play.

Except the Nebraska bench.

If someone from the Nebraska bench had tackled Ecker, Michigan would have been awarded a touchdown automatically for committing a "palpably unfair act".

2005-12-29 13:09:26
7.   Stevenalpert
They would not have been awarded the TD--because the referees would have blown that call too. Also I am not sure the center 'elected' not to catch that ball anymore than you 'elected' to lose at air hockey against a 9 year old. I think he just missed it.
2005-12-29 13:47:06
8.   Bob Timmermann
I tried to beat the 8-year old (he turns 9 next week). However, I took it easy on the 6-year old. And I got a tie!

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