The Drop, The Catch

Every close game has some sort of turning point and capturing those points are pretty crucial to tell a story sometimes.

I was scrolling through all my football photos earlier today and remembered that I had captured two of the most crucial moments in this year’s Mid-American Conference Championship game. Ironically the Super Bowl had one of these catches too.

The moments were lost in the midst of celebration shots and even in my haste of putting photos on the pages that week, I went with more celebration shots that could run alone. So today was a good jog of the memory and a better chance to show a pair of game-changing plays.

In the game, NIU came back from down 20-0 at half to win 23-20. These two plays came in the fourth quarter of the game and played a huge factor in the outcome.

On the left is Ohio’s Lavon Brazill going up for a touchdown catch, but dropping it in the endzone. As you can see, he was clearly in great position and the pass was dead on. He just dropped it, in a 20-20 game and under two minutes left, on third down. This after Brazill caught eight passes for 124 yards on the game, but he couldn’t snag the one that would matter.

I remember thinking at the time he dropped it and forced a Bobcat punt that it could be a significant moment if NIU drove down the field and scored. So I at least had it in mind until the celebration ensued.

On the right is NIU’s Perez Ashford making a highlight reel catch, somewhat similar to the circus catches of David Tyree and Mario Manningham in the Giants’ Super Bowl wins against the Patriots. That catch was the first play after Ohio’s punt and left 1:11 on the clock. After review the 27-yard reception was confirmed and the Huskies would kick a last-second field goal to win.

At first I didn’t think I had a great shot of it. Even until today I didn’t think I did. Which may have prevented me from running it.

What thrills me the most about the shots above was not that I had a key moment in each, but that I was able to get a sequence. Adds a lot more than just one frame I think. Better yet Ashford’s catch ended up as ESPN’s Top Play that night too.

Just goes to show, what may have seemed secondary after the fact, was actually part of a historic moment. The field goal clinched NIU’s first MAC Championship since 1983.

It may not have happened if it weren’t for these two plays.

© 2011 Jerry Burnes/Northern Star

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