Big 12 comments on Sooners fourth down conversion

Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks, center, hands the ball off to quarterback Caleb Williams,...
Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks, center, hands the ball off to quarterback Caleb Williams, left, as he is being tackled by Kansas linebacker Rich Miller during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Lawrence, Kan. Oklahoma won 35-23. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)(Charlie Riedel | AP)
Published: Oct. 23, 2021 at 7:52 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas football team was trailing Oklahoma 28-23 late in the fourth quarter. The team needed a stop in order to have a shot at winning the game.

The Sooners, faced with a fourth and one from midfield, elected to go for it.

The play was a hand off to running back Kennedy Brooks. KU linebacker Rich Miller snuffed out the play and was wrapping up Brooks for a tackle for loss, meaning the Jayhawks would get the ball. However, Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams took the ball from Brooks and ran for a first down.

Oklahoma scored another touchdown to put the final nail in the 35-23 KU loss.

The Jayhawks coaching staff and fans all expressed frustration over the play. Replay review ruled that it was a legal play. The Big 12 released another statement after the game further backing up the officials ruling.

“The reviewable aspects of the play were position of the ball in relation to the line of scrimmage and if possession was ever lost by the offense,” The Big 12 Conference said in the statement. “The ball never crossed the line of scrimmage and there was never a loss of possession, not a fumble, so this play was a forward hand-off behind the line of scrimmage.”

“That action is allowed under Rule 7-6-a which states: ‘A Team A back may hand the ball forward to another back only if both are behind their scrimmage line and the player handing the ball forward has not had their entire body beyond the neutral zone.”

Coach Lance Leipold commented on the play in his postgame press conference.

“I thought we made a stop,” Leipold said. “I don’t know completely if forward progress had been stopped, but he kind of bounced back as it was going. Not even really handed, I think the quarterback just kind of took it away from him, which very heady play from there. They said since it happened behind the line of scrimmage, it’s a legal play. And that’s pretty much the explanation I had. I didn’t know if it was considered a pass or a hand-off, so I asked if there was (illegal) men downfield, but they said it was a hand-off. Once they made the decision, they were clear at least on the explanation that they had at that time.”

Leipold was asked later on in the press conference if he felt the team was robbed of a chance to win a football game.

“I’m not gonna comment on that right now,” Leipold said. “Like I said, those are tough calls on progress. I’d have to take another look at it. But as you know, I’m pretty enthusiastic with officials throughout a game, but at that same time, I understand that the calls and explanations were made. We’ve just got to find ways to make plays.”

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