Loganville football executes a tight turn and passes the ball over the head
Midway through the fourth overtime Friday night, Loganville coach Brad Smith looked at his scoresheet. He had been calling everything he could throughout the game, so he turned to his offensive coordinator and asked if he should pull out one of the greatest gimmicks of all time.
“Banana in the tailpipe,” Smith called.
“It’s kind of a joke game just to get the kids excited at the end of practice,” Smith said.
With the season opener against Monroe Area tied 39, Loganville faced 3rd and long at the 13-yard line. The Red Devils lined up in their standard shotgun formation with a full back and two tight ends on the right.
On the snap, the tailback took off to the right, the quarterback ran straight ahead and handed the ball to tight end Connor O’Neill going in the opposite direction. O’Neill, a senior playing in his first high school football game, threw the ball back over his head like a basketball trick shot from half court and found tight end Joshua Ruder sliding down the middle to catch it.
Loganville had practiced the game three times earlier in the week to wrap up practice. It had worked once.
“We practiced it, wrote it up and told them it’s just a fancy game that we’ll probably never use, but chances are when you do stuff like that it works. “Smith said. “No one expects it, no one would remotely think that someone is going to throw him over their head like that towards the end zone.”
Ruder was taken out at the 1/2 yard line and Loganville scored a touchdown on the next play for a 45-39 lead. The Red Devils stopped Monroe Area on the next series to win the game.
Loganville stole the game from Fitzgerald, said Smith, who ran it on a two-point conversion a few years ago.
“I never thought I was going to run the 13-yard line,” Smith said. “We didn’t think he would ever throw it that far. A two-point play, he throws it out of the end zone. It’s just funny how it all goes.”
Secondary video of the play went viral early Saturday on SportsCenter’s account as well as Barstool Sports and CBS Sports. Some have asked Smith to call the play in a regular season game.
“It’s funny to read all these comments like the coach should be fired,” Smith said. “I mean, I’m right here with you, man. But I’m sitting here looking at my play call sheet and I’ve been through it all. We’re running out of games to run. It wasn’t desperation, but it was just ‘let’s take a chance here, what do we have to lose?'”
After nine wins over the past two seasons, Class 5A Loganville earned a resounding victory over a top-10 Class 3A team.
The Red Devils are in a new 8-5A region with Clarke Central, Jefferson, Eastside, Flowery Branch, Heritage-Conyers and Winder-Barrow.
For a program looking to start its season with a bang, they really didn’t have much to lose in the out-of-region contest.
“I’m a big fan of Bruce Arians (who says) ‘no risk, no cookie,'” Smith said. “That’s what it was.”