I used to joke a lot that rules were made to be broken. Having kids kind of broke me (no pun intended) of that one. However, sometimes the rules can be a little weird. Many an Atlanta Braves fan is still annoyed by the existence of the infield fly rule, for example.
However, the Colquitt County High School Packers didn’t need to break the rules to do something pretty awesome. They just needed to take advantage of them.
It starts with a regular old punt by Archer High School in the GHSA 7A quarterfinals from deep in their own territory with the score at 7-3 in favor of the Archer Tigers.
The punt was a good one, with plenty of hang time. It was good enough that Colquitt County called for a fair catch.
That’s where things get interesting.
An obscure rule in both high school and professional football states that a team that receives a fair catch has the option to take a free kick from the spot of the fair catch. The opposing team must treat this as a free kick and remain 10 yards back of the line of scrimmage. If the kick goes through the uprights, it’s worth three points, just like a field goal.
Like we said, it’s a rule that few are aware of, and even fewer have seen in action.
Colquitt was aware, however, and decided to take advantage. They spotted the ball on a tee at midfield, and sent out the hammer-footed [Ryan] Fitzgerald, who proceeded to drill the 60-yard attempt.
Now, bear in mind that the NFL record for a field goal is only 64 yards, and here a high school junior for Southwest Georgia was going to try for a 60 yarder? Only 17 professional football players have ever booted one for 60 yards in a game before, so did Fitzgerald really have a shot?
Well, judge for yourself.
Now, granted, this was a quirky rule that let Fitzgerald have a free shot at the goalposts, but thems the rules. As NFHS Network notes, this rule also exists in the NFL, though it hasn’t been used since 1976.
However, it worked out well for Colquitt. In fact, they won the game 12-7 and will be playing for the GHSA 7A state championship this weekend.
Win or lose, though, that team owes Fitzgerald a big old steak dinner for getting them out of that game alive.