With just moments left in the first quarter of a game being dominated by the LSU Tigers, we got our first glimpse of a rule enforced that many thought would create drama from announcers, coaches and fans alike for the potential timing and subjective nature of the call.
On fourth down the Florida Gators lined up to receive a punt from LSU and a chance to cut the early 14-point lead in half with a good drive.
Florida never looked back.
LSU punter DJ Howard took the snap and stood and watched as the entire Florida team turned its back and sprinted downfield to set up for a return.
There would be no punt.
Howard, behind a convoy of LSU blockers, not only got the first down, but raced all the way down the sideline for an apparent score.
It looked to be 21-0 LSU.
The touchdown, however, would be brought back as the infraction of a new rule was born. Under the new legislation, a touchdown can be taken off the board if the official deems the player was prematurely celebrating and taunting prior to reaching the end zone.
Howard turned to oncoming Gators, arms wide open, 10-15 yards before he reached the end zone. It was a small but unquestionable gesture.
There was however, no drama.
The rule could not have been introduced into “big game” football any better. LSU was dominating and about to pile it on again. The act was pretty black and white. There was no argument that it happened and it didn’t seem to affect the outcome of the game anyway.
It couldn’t have worked out better for the rules committee. The scare of a game, in the final minutes of a nail-biter, being decided by the taunting rule for the first time was averted.
Congratulations to NCAA for dodging a bullet.
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