Okay, this is just getting weird. In a “deja vu all over again” sense.
Concordia Prep faced a second and four from the Dundalk 14-yard line, leading 7-0 with most of the fourth quarter remaining.
A tough spot for the Owl defense, but they had already turned away the Saints four times in the Dundalk red zone.
The ball is snapped. It’s a running play, but the Concordia quarterback bobbles the ball and misses the handoff. Pursued by the Dundalk defense, he runs to his right, sees a teammate wide open in the end zone, and throws a pass.
The officials signal: touchdown, Concordia Prep. No flags.
But — it was a running play, remember? The Concordia offensive line fired off the ball and were over five yards downfield blocking when the pass was thrown.
That’s an “ineligible man downfield” penalty. No touchdown.
Except every official somehow missed — or just chose to ignore — all those offensive linemen blocking downfield.
Look, I know officiating is tough. I know these guys put up with a lot of crap despite generally doing their job well. But this isn’t even a judgment call. This is no-brainer territory.
Now the weird part.
In 2004, Sparrows Point hosted Joppatowne in the first round of the Class 1A football playoffs. Despite being the home team, the Pointers were heavy underdogs to the Mariners.
Sparrows Point hung with Joppatowne and seemed poised to pull an upset, until the Mariners scored on a back-breaking long touchdown pass.
A pass that started out as a running play, but the quarterback bobbled the ball and missed the handoff. He rolled to his right, was about to get tackled, and threw the ball to an open teammate downfield.
Wanna guess where all the Mariner offensive linemen were? One of them was even standing right next to the player who caught the pass.
The officials didn’t notice — or chose to ignore — all the offensive linemen blocking downfield for the running play.
Joppatowne went on to lose in the Class 1A state championship game.
Let’s see ... oh, 2016. Patapsco hosting Lansdowne on Homecoming. The game goes into overtime, and the Vikings have the ball on the Patriot two-yard line.
The play is a dive up the middle, only the Lansdowne quarterback fumbles the ball, picks it up ... and, well, you can probably guess the rest.
Only, this time, the quarterback runs to his left before throwing a desperation pass into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. I even have photos showing the Viking offensive linemen standing in the end zone as the pass is thrown.
Weird, huh? It’s like picking and choosing which rules are going to be enforced although, to be fair, the officials probably just wanted that Patapsco-Lansdowne game to end. And there was a fight afterwards.
Back to that Dundalk-Concordia Prep game. Now down 13-0, the Owls need a touchdown. They drive to the Concordia prep nine-yard line, where they face third and inches.
After an incomplete pass, it’s fourth and inches. A timeout is called. And the officials throw a flag on Dundalk: unsportsmanlike conduct. A Dundalk player “said something” to a Concordia Prep player.
This is a private school versus a public school. Players have been chirping at each other all game. And the officials chose that situation to throw a flag? For someone saying something to another player? A crucial fourth down play? Turning it from a very doable few inches to 15 yards?
A non-call of an infraction that was blatantly obvious. A judgment penalty that essentially ended the game.
And an officiating crew, I’m told, that usually works private school games.