Just about everything went wrong for Virginia against Navy in the Military Bowl.
The Cavaliers returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown but did not score a single point afterward in a 49-7 loss. Virginia allowed Navy to wrack up 452 yards of offense (all on the ground), committed three turnovers and turned it over on downs twice.
The second time Virginia turned it over on downs really summed up the entire afternoon.
Down 42-7 late in the third, the Virginia offense went three-and-out and brought out punter Lester Coleman. The snap was low, so Coleman, who had a busy day, dropped to a knee to receive the ball before kicking it away.
You can’t do that.
In college football, as soon as your knee touches the ground while in possession of the ball the play is blown dead, so the play went in the books as a loss of 14 yards and a turnover on downs. Nine plays later, Navy scored again to increase its lead to 49-7.
The only time a player can advance the ball after possessing while on a knee is via a holder on a field goal or extra point. From NCAA rule 4-1-3 (page 158):
Team A is in formation to attempt a field goal. At the snap A22 is in position to execute a right-footed place kick and A33 is in position as the holder. The snap goes to A33 who has a knee on the ground. Just after the snap A22 breaks to his left and toward the neutral zone, and A33, while still on his knee, flips a forward pass to A22 who carries the ball beyond the line to gain before he is tackled. RULING: Legal play, because at the snap A22 was in position to attempt a place kick. First and 10 for Team A.
That’s how LSU executed this fake field goal against Florida in 2015 (and several other times during the Les Miles era):
In Coleman’s case, the snap was definitely low but he has to know he can’t take a knee in that situation. The game was already out of hand when he did it, but it could have proven costly if Virginia put up a better fight against the Midshipmen.
With the win, Navy finished the season 7-6 to improve its streak of winning seasons to six. Virginia, after starting the season 5-1, finish the year at 6-7, the program’s sixth straight losing season.
– – – – – – –