What college team first scored on the two point conversion Point After Touchdown (PAT) Return
Yesterday in the NFL the New Orleans Saints were the first NFL team to take advantage of a new rule: They blocked an extra point, now a 33 yard “feat” instead of a 20 yarder, (which frankly has made a huge difference in the number of kicks made and teams going for two point conversions on the (PAT) point after touchdown), and returned it for two points.
The ability to go for two points after scoring a touchdown is relatively new, but for a team to score a 2 point “defensive” try is new this year and essentially was completed when the Carolina Panthers scored a touchdown and were attempting a PAT (kick) to tie the game. New Orleans’ Kevin Williams blocked Graham Gano’s extra point then Stephone Anthony took it back the other way. This is the first two pointer in NFL history.
Nothing newsworthy above, or something you will not find in any sports section or web site today…. BUT…here is my trivia question. College football has had this rule since 1988….when was the first time it happened at the collegiate level? Even if you are a huge college football fan, you will never get this answer, unless you were there.
Unlike the NFL (week 13), it happened in the first game of the season, and in one of the first games played that early September Saturday. I was a first year SID (Sports Information Director) at Iona College and the Gaels were playing their nemesis, the St. John’s Redmen (now Red Storm). (As an aside, sadly, both of these programs have dropped football). Iona had built a strong program under former New Rochelle legend (and now Ramapo AD) Harold Crocker and was ready to take the next step. The game was played at Mount Vernon’s Memorial Stadium, which was long past its heyday, if it ever had one. If you have ever watched the Iona Prep vs. New Rochelle Thanksgiving Day high school football game on Channel 11 back in the day, this was the place they played. To put it nicely, the place was a dump. But Iona, at the time, had no field on campus—this was their home field, miles away from the New Rochelle campus.
The game was televised by MSG Network, which was fairly new, with the talent being a rising star by the name of Bob Papa (no need to explain what a fine broadcaster and career he has had) and I am struggling to remember who the analyst was; definitely a former NFL player, perhaps Dave Jennings or Wesley Walker? (Anyone want to help me with that? I didn’t keep my game notes!)
In any case, the game was a barn burner–a very good game, and Iona scored a late TD to tie the game. The extra point was blocked and the ball lay perilously on the ground with neither team particularly interested in pursuing it. Having played football all of their lives, why would they? Everyone has reacted to this play as being a dead ball since the beginning of football! In the press box we immediately announced to the writers and broadcast team that it was a “live ball.”
The ball finally came to rest by the Iona sideline and with the Gael coaches trying to implore their players on the field (without making it too obvious) to come over and fall on it. The St. Johns coaches were screaming from the far sideline to their players and some fans were buzzing in the stands….finally one of the Redmen players picked it up and began to sprint (about) 86 yards toward the Iona end zone, a couple of Iona players gave chase but to no avail; the first two point conversion return had been scored in the history of the game.
For Iona, it was not just being on the wrong side of a trivia question, it also lost the game 26-24, yes, by the very two points that were scored on the first ever two point return.
So, if you ever win a drink because of this, make it a double, and give me a call!