Anyone remember the famous "Fifth Down" game?
Posted 14 February 2019 - 03:02 PM
Hope you enjoy my little recounting if you know nothing about it. There's a link to a short video of the painful moments in the game just below. I myself was listening to it on the radio that day and, along with an unknown number of Missouri fans yelling at their TV sets or radios, I'm sure, went hoarse that afternoon.
THE FIFTH DOWN GAME...https://youtu.be/vLfR0o_zhIg
--The most righteously wronged team in history had to be my own Missouri Tigers football team. On October 6,1990 their opponent, the Colorado Buffaloes, were in the red zone pressing for a go ahead TD. They had run nearly the length of the field to get within striking distance of the goal. They had just obtained a first down at the Missouri 3½ yard line and the Colorado QB spiked the ball on first down to kill the clock.
Then a very funny thing happened. The stars lined up for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Everyone in the whole stadium from the board operator to the chain gang operators to the referees and the coaches...everyone was confused by the first down spike by the Colorado QB. This was the first year such a play had been allowed and so in the heat of a very intense battle it began the confusion.
Confusion was aided by a Missouri fan on the midfield sidelines who was having a heart attack because of the tenseness of the game. He was being pulled out of his seat and onto the sidelines and this caused many to lose focus on the game as well.
Second down was a running play that was stuffed and with no timeouts the Colorado team couldn't stop the clock. Yet, the refs did exactly that, stopping the clock at 8 seconds to allow the pile of players to be straightened out and everyone reset.
This was a miracle for the Buffaloes. The clock is never stopped in a running play in football.
With the roar of 70,000 plus fans in the Missouri stadium chaos reigned. The chief referee went to the sidelines and made some explanation as to why Missouri hadn't won the game and why there was still 8 seconds left. In this process he forgot to make the customary signal to increase the down count to 3rd down and so the chains and the score board still continued to show 2nd down. Colorado ran another running play and was stopped again. Then they quickly spiked the ball once more to stop the clock with 2 seconds left in the game. This was the real 4th down play but the chains and the scoreboard continued to show only 3rd down.
The Tigers had held tough through four downs and won the game but no one realized it. They had done what no one thought possible and had stuffed the mighty Buffaloes for the victory.
Only no one knew it on the field or in the score box.
With just 2 seconds on the clock Colorado's QB hurriedly gathered to run what they thought was the final fourth down play. And this time the Colorado QB succeeded in punching the ball through for the score.
Afterwards, the verdict was not going to be reversed because, the refs said, the ball had been snapped on the fifth down play, and any complaint had to have been lodged before that snap. Thus, all complaints by the Missouri side were automatically invalidated and the game went into the history books with a very bold asterisk.
Some say it was muscle memory that had taken the Tiger defenders back to line for that 5th down to oppose the Colorado team, who likewise had been confused as well. With the referees and the chain gang all following the brainless mistake, only those of us at home listening attentively seemed to be aware of the truth. Many of us were yelling at our radios, let me tell you, but no one could hear us screaming, "fifth down, fifth down..."
The importance of the game was that Colorado, who had played in the title game the year before for the 1989 season, went on to win a share of the national collegiate football title for 1990. Now you know the reason for the asterisk next to their name in the record books that year. How amazing it was, I still think to this day, that so many people on the field that fateful afternoon suffered the same mental lapse.... 🤣
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Posted 14 February 2019 - 09:55 PM
I definitely remember it. I wasn't a fan of either team, but that was certainly messed up.
Posted 15 February 2019 - 10:30 PM
I saw this before on an ESPN film about the coach of Colorado, Macartney. He was a controversial guy, very religious I think.
He was also pretty lucky, considering this episode, and also another big game where his team was up 5 points and the opposition basically had to score from a kick off return. The opponent returner evaded about 8 tackles and scored, but the touchdown was cancelled due to a dubious flag thrown.
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