It should have been a proud moment when 8-year-old Elijah Burrell scored his first touchdown in peewee football. The Lawrenceville Black Knights had a 32-0 lead over the other team in the fourth quarter when No. 2 intercepted a pass and raced towards the end zone. However, jubilation over the victory was short-lived.
By scoring an additional touchdown, the team accidentally violated a mercy rule created by the Gwinnett Football League. By passing 33 points, the Lawrenceville Black Knights incurred a $500 fine and the coach was suspended for one week.
Erik Richards, president of the Gwinnett Football League told reporters at WGCL-TV that the team was fined for unsportsmanlike conduct by mocking the other players and running off the field.
"We were all super excited, he was beyond excited and we were fined for it," Brooke Burdett told WGCL-TV. Burdett's son, Elijah Burrell, made the touchdown. "He had no idea. This is his first year. This was his first touchdown. He is an 8-year-old boy making a pick-six.”
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The other parents were upset by the league’s decision, too.
"For the league to think we intentionally went out there to run the score up is absurd," Chando John told WGCL-TV. John has been with the team for three years and believed the mercy rule should be changed.
"How do I explain to an eight year old kid that your coach has been suspended because your teammate unintentionally scored?" Chando asked. "It is hard having an 8-year-old in flight to think of everything everybody has said, other than I need to make a touchdown.”
Burdett said that the team didn’t mean to run up the score. His son was excited to be playing. He also said the other team was uncooperative. After Elijah scored, the Lawrenceville Black Knights tried to let the other team score, but they refused to catch the ball.
The team’s parents are splitting the fine, which amounts to $17 per player.
Image: Screenshot via WGCL-TV