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Video: Celebration Penalty Costs High School Team State Title

Thanks to former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Luther Broughton for tipping us off on this one. And when we say “tipping us off,” we mean that he posted it on Facebook. But yeah, this is some nonsense.

QB Matt Owens of Boston Cathedral High School ran in for a touchdown to take the lead with six minutes to go against Blue Hills. It would have given them a 18-16 lead, but there was a penalty called. Oh those penalties will get you! So, what did he do? He raised his arm for a quick “yeah!” moment as he had nothing but green in front of him. In Massachusetts, that’s ummmm….illegal.

After the penalty, Owens threw the ball to the other team and that essentially ended the game.

“In the game being played, we won the game. Give Blue Hills a lot of credit. They are a great football team, but we deserve better. The game got taken away from us,” Cathedral coach Duane Sigsbury told the Boston Globe. “If you’re going to take a game away from a kid being excited because he just made the play of his life, shame on you.”

But, as ridiculous as the call was, the ref probably made the right decision given the rule:

If the ball is alive when the player makes a taunting gesture, then the penalty is enforced at the spot of the foul – and the key outcome: no touchdown.

I understand the rule, but I guess it’s the definition of “taunting” that I’m not clear on. He absolutely did not taunt the other players. Up in Massachusetts, this type of behavior is probably equated with bullying.

“He raised his hand because he knew was going to the pinnacle,” Owens’ dad Kenneth told the Herald on Monday. “There was nothing dishonorable about the play. There was no doubt it was a touchdown. He gets 20 yards in — and he’s not thinking about the rule — and he just raised his hand.

“He handed the ball to the referee. He didn’t spike it. He goes to a Catholic school where they are taught that their God is in the sky. So I know when he raised his hand, he was thanking his Lord for what happened to him today. Football is a team sport. There’s lot of kids that are hurting today.”

Joe Cacciatore, who assigns the officials in the Catholic Conference and Greater Boston League, says the correct call was made.

“It’s tough, but the official absolutely made the right call according to the letter of the law,” Cacciatore told the Herald. “It says it right there in the rules that any attempt to draw attention to yourself, whether it is pointing the finger, raising a fist or anything like that, is a penalty. We’ve been instructed to call it when it happens, it’s zero tolerance now.”

If just about every reasonable person looks at a play and thinks it’s complete nonsense, then it’s time to change the rules.


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