I recall reading a story in the 1980s — but I don't recall when it was supposed to have happened — about an American-football game. (I think it was a college game.) A team thought it most advantageous to kick a field goal, but was too close to get a good angle. So the manager sent replacement players in, the players on the field refused to leave, and so it went until the referee called a delay-of-game penalty of some few yards, enough to get the kicker a better angle. (Of course, I may have gotten some of the details wrong.)

  1. (My main question.) Does anyone know when this happened, with what teams, etc.? A Web search isn't helping me.
  2. (Just out of additional curiosity.) I don't know that much about football, but why can't the kicker just pull back a few yards without having been penalized? I'd think a team is allowed to create its own "disadvantage" (quotation marks because it wasn't actually a disadvantage in this case.)

1 Answer 1


Found it!

In the Rose Bowl game of January 1, 1950 between Ohio State and California, the score was tied at 14-all, with less than a minute and a half to play. Ohio State had the ball on California’s 6-yard line, fourth down, 3 yards to go. Coach Wes Fesler pointed to his kicking specialist Jim Hague and told him to go into the game to try a field goal. Dick Widdoes was also sent in to hold the ball for Hague.

But when the kicker and his holder trotted onto the field, three Ohio State players began to scream at them. “Go back! Go back! We want the touchdown!”… Hague returned to coach Fesler, who was now enraged.…

By this time, Ohio state had taken too much time. The referee picked up the football and marched off a 5-yard penalty for delay of game. He placed the ball down on the California 11-yard line, on the hash mark 20 yards in from the sidelines. Now it would be foolish to try for the touchdown.

When Hague finally got into the huddle, Krall and Hamilton, now smiling, trotted off the field.

“What’s the big idea?” Hague demanded in the huddle.… Morrison pointed out that if the play had started on the 6-yard line, the kicking angle would be bad. The five-yard penalty made the kick longer, but improved the angle. The Ohio State players had disobeyed the coach in order to get a penalty!

Holder Widdoes knelt at the California 18-yard line. The ball came back and he placed it down. Hague stepped forward and kicked. The ball just made it over the crossbar. The kick was good, and Ohio State won, 17-14.

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