Houston coach Major Applewhite kept all three timeouts in his pocket until the last second of the first half against No. 25 Memphis on Thursday.
Applewhite decided not to waste any of them. As Memphis kicker Riley Patterson lined up a 52-yard field goal with 0:01 on the clock, Applewhite called a timeout. Patterson made the kick, but it didn’t count. Then Applewhite called another one, and again Patterson made a meaningless practice kick.
Applewhite used his final timeout before yet another Patterson kick, and that one sailed wide left but also didn’t count. So Patterson had to kick a fourth 52-yard field goal with the clock still reading 0:01. Because life is cruel, he missed that one.
17-0, Houston, at the half.
The Houston coach’s bold triple-icing strategy actually worked.
I won’t go too far in praising his genius, because the last timeout Applewhite called turned out to only afford Patterson another try after a miss. But all’s well that ends well, and this half ended with Memphis not scoring any points despite trying to kick four times.
In college football, it’s legal to call consecutive timeouts during the same dead ball period. The NFL has a rule outlawing that practice, but the NCAA doesn’t.
I have sympathy for Patterson. A 52-yarder is long for even an NFL kicker, and Patterson’s a freshman. He’ll at least get a story out of this ordeal, if no points.
Memphis had called a timeout leading up to this sequence, which is how the clock got stuck at one second remaining in the first place. Four timeouts in zero seconds!