Brown's stepson made bizarre appearance
Sideline incident momentarily changed game's momentum.
Friday, December 28, 2007
SAN DIEGO — Colt McCoy and Jamaal Charles, as expected, had their fingerprints all over Texas' 52-34 victory over Arizona State.
So did a member of Mack Brown's family, his stepson Chris Jessee.
Jessee, who works on the team's operations staff, was part of a bizarre play on the Longhorns' sideline that changed the pace — and momentum — of the second quarter.
In a game filled with unusual plays, none was more memorable than Jessee's interference on a loose football that turned an Arizona State turnover into a Texas nightmare.
Fortunately for the Longhorns, the strange play was a mere footnote to the team's 10th victory of the season and fourth straight bowl win.
After the game, Jessee was surrounded by dozens of reporters and TV cameras, explaining his reaction to the play.
"I thought the pass was incomplete so my first reaction — my instinct — was to reach down," Jessee said. "As soon as I realized the play was still alive I jumped back as fast as I could."
The Sun Devils had faced third down at the Longhorns' 15-yard line when quarterback Rudy Carpenter was hit behind the line of scrimmage by Texas linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy. The ball squirted out of Carpenter's hands and rolled toward the UT sideline, where players scrambled to pull it in, and Jessee stepped on the field and motioned to keep the ball inbounds.
Texas defensive end Aaron Lewis recovered the ball and returned it to the ASU 44. With Texas already staked to a 21-0 lead, it appeared the Longhorns were about to blow the Sun Devils out of Qualcomm Stadium.
A referee's yellow flag changed everything. The referees explained afterward that they initially threw the flag because they were unsure whether Carpenter had thrown a forward or backward pass. Replay showed that the ball went backward. One official thought the ball was touched by a Texas coach.
"Replay can be used for an egregious situation," the game's instant replay official, Bob Patrick of the Southeastern Conference, said in a statement after the game. "It was reviewed and ruled that the coach did touch the ball in the field of play."
Officials overruled the turnover, and Texas was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Patrick said afterward that in such a bizarre circumstance, the referee has "the right to penalize whatever he feels equitable."
ASU retained possession of the football — at UT's 7.
Carpenter took advantage of the sideline gaffe by hitting receiver Chris McGaha with a touchdown pass, cutting the Longhorns' lead to 21-7 with 12:36 to play in the first half.
Arizona State seized momentum, but Texas regained its composure to take a 28-10 lead at halftime.
Brown put his arm around Jessee after the game, and both shared a few laughs.
"It just shows our bad our family wanted to win this game," Brown quipped.
ASU coach Dennis Erickson said the play was one of his team's few bright moments.
"In my 35 or 40 years in college football — it seems like 50 right now — that's the most unusual play I've ever seen," Erickson said.
The Texas bench was hit with a pair of sideline warnings during the game.
"We weren't going to let one or two bad plays cost us the game," said senior safety Marcus Griffin, who finished his final career game with two interceptions.