Trick play brings TV time to Oakmont football program
Down on one knee, Taylor Laird turned back to Joey Rosnack and exchanged a few quick encouraging words.
With no time on the clock and Oakmont High School trailing by one Friday in front of a large crowd on Lincoln’s homecoming night, Laird was about to take the snap from center Dylan Knapp and hold for an extra-point kick by Rosnack that, if converted, would send the game to overtime.
Only Laird wasn’t about to spot the ball for Rosnack’s kick.
“The kicker didn’t know either,” Laird said with a smile Monday, joined by a handful of teammates that will talk for as long as they live about the Vikings’ trick two-point conversion that beat Lincoln 44-43. They’ll talk about it at work, in the dugout during softball games and at reunions five, 10, 20 and 30 years from now — long after ESPN, CNN, Yahoo! Sports, USA Today and other national media outlets have quit blowing up the cell phone of head coach Tim Moore seeking his version of the story just one more time.
With no official name for the play — “Top secret,” Moore said in a text Tuesday — it has become known as the wedding bouquet toss because, well, that’s what it looked like.
Playing second fiddle to the bouquet toss was Oakmont’s last-minute drive, capped by Laird’s sweet pass to the back left corner of the end zone that was caught in traffic by leaping 6-foot-3 junior Namani Parker on the final play.
“I didn’t know we were going for two,” Parker said Monday.
The Vikings set up for a routine PAT, but when Laird caught Knapp’s snap on target, he stood, turned his back to the line of scrimmage and flipped the ball high over the back of his head and into the end zone. Athletic junior Justin Holmes, who slipped across the line of scrimmage on the snap and into the back of the end zone, had to come back and out-jump three Lincoln defenders for the ball. He fell forward and onto the ground as officials signaled the play good.
“I knew what needed to be done to win the game,” the 6-3 Holmes said, noting that when he played basketball, he was “always our (team’s) best rebounder. It pretty much came natural.”
The Vikings left their sideline and rushed to their teammates on the field. Coaches and players hugged. Lincoln players walked slowly toward their quiet, stunned sideline. Others knelt on the field in shock. Players from both sides cried.
“Best game I’ve ever played in,” Laird said. “I took off and sprinted about 50 yards.”
Moore said while the Vikings practice their fakes two or three times a week,
“You never really get the true feel of it,” since the other unit, in this case the point-after team, knows it’s coming.
But during practice Wednesday before the game, Moore whispered to Laird and Holmes to run the trick play, and it worked.
The reaction, according to Moore: “Where’d that come from?”
His response: “You never know; we may need to run it.”
The Vikings needed to run it Friday night. With the Fighting Zebras having rushed for 444 yards, including 319 by senior James Hubbard, and the Vikings dinged up throughout the night, Moore admittedly wanted no part of Lincoln’s running game in overtime.
The Vikings quickly marched to their final touchdown, and Laird flipped the trick pass to Holmes just as Moore taught him — like a backward shot in basketball. Ideally, the pass is thrown about eight yards deep into the end zone with an end-over-end action designed to fool the defense into thinking it’s the extra-point kick.
Laird’s toss went about five yards deep, but Holmes adjusted and won the battle for the ball — and a victory that Tuesday still saw Moore answering his phone to tell the story.
“It’s crazy,” Holmes said. “It was nerve-racking.”
“I wasn’t nervous because we were on a roll that whole drive,” Laird said. “I knew if I put it out there, he’s going to get it.”
Said Knapp: “It was an out-of-body experience.”
Contact Bill Poindexter at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.