The No. 11 USC Trojans pulled off an incredible play to to leave both the UCLA punt coverage unit and the ABC broadcast very lost on Saturday night.
UCLA’s Stefan Flintoft sent off a nice punt for 48 yards, but nobody on the coverage unit was anywhere near the Trojans player that caught the ball, Michael Pittman Jr. That’s because USC punt returner Ajene Harris was on the other side of the field, acting as though he was catching the ball.
The Bruins, the ABC (ESPN) camera, and play-by-play man Chris Fowler all were confused at the play, which resulted in an easy 72-yard touchdown return for Pittman.
This is brilliant execution by Clay Helton’s USC squad:
If this play looks familiar to you, perhaps you remember Johnny Knox and Devin Hester pulling this off for the Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers in 2005. Dave Toub — the Bears’ special teams coordinator at the time; currently holds the same title with the Chiefs — was the architect of the play, which was incorrectly called back due to a bad flag from the officials.
The St. Louis Rams then ran this play for a punt return touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks in 2014:
Then the Seahawks learned from that play and ran it on the Bears in 2015: