Head coaches preach falling on the football. When the ball hits the turf, fall on it and secure it. But when should a player try to scoop and score? We found out in the waning moments of the 2011 Sugar Bowl as Arkansas blocked an Ohio State punt in the finals minutes, only to see freshman Julian Horton fall on the ball. That blocked punt, and the missed chance to run it back for a touchdown, turned out to be huge for the Razorbacks on Tuesday night in New Orleans.
For your viewing pleasure, check out video of the blocked punt below. Notice it's fourth down and Ohio State is kicking from its own 30.
The block itself was perfect. Colton Miles-Nash makes a great, athletic play by leaping over the last line of blockers to get a hand on the ball. With a host of Arkansas players around, Horton tips the ball to himself, then inexplicably falls on it instead of scooping and scoring.
Weigh the risk and reward here. Score and the game is essentially over. The Ryan Mallett interception doesn't happen and Ohio State has less than a minute to put together a drive to win. The odds are in the Razorbacks' favor.
The risk, in this case, is pretty much zero. The only way Ohio State gets a favorable outcome is if, by some miracle, one of the punt team members happens to recover the ball while evading a host of Arkansas players to scramble to 20-some yards for the first down. Anything else and Arkansas still ends up with the ball.
In the heat of the moment, it may be tough to put the pieces together, but Arkansas had nothing to lose by trying to scoop the ball and run it in. With a host of blockers ready to usher the way into the end zone, the odds of a touchdown were high. Instead, Horton dove on the ball and the rest is history.