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College Football

Four Safeties And A Loss

A referee puts a safety symbol (both hands clasped together) over his head as a player hands a football to him
Screengrab via MTN Sports

As a rule, any notable involvement in a football game by a long snapper is a bad sign. If they do their job perfectly, they are invisible, and the punt or field goal they’re tasked with setting up succeeds or fails on its own merits. It’s an almost completely thankless role, somewhat similar to that of a goalkeeper, but without any of the capacity to do cool stuff other than, say, make the odd punt return tackle.

Unfortunately, Weber State long snapper Grant Sands was the main character of his team’s ludicrous 43-38 loss at Montana State this past Saturday, as he sailed four snaps high over his punter’s head, all of which went for safeties. No college football team, FBS or FCS, had ever surrendered four safeties in a single game before. The Wildcats were also never even that close to their own end zone on any of Sands’s doomed snaps; he just put a dangerous amount of sauce on snaps from, like, 25 yards out and bombed them 10 or so feet above the outstretched hands of his punter. Making the safety flurry that much more painful, Montana State scored touchdowns on three of the following four drives.

Weber State were undefeated before the rivalry game with Montana State, and they really should have won the game even with Sands forking over eight free points to his opponents. Weber State leapt out to a 24-9 lead, and had the chance to add another touchdown when receiver Jacob Sharp dropped a sure touchdown pass. Sands then flung his second ball up to meet the sky gods, gifting Montana State the first two of what would turn out to be 34 unanswered points. Weber State roared back late in the game, thanks in part to some dicey decision-making—Montana State coach Brent Vigen went for it on fourth down at the Weber State 14 while up two touchdowns instead of taking the easy field goal—only to blow it on the final play of the game. Bronson Barron hit a wide open Ty MacPherson at the Montana State 12 with 25 seconds left, only for MacPherson to put the ball on the deck. Game over.

“Grant’s going to be fine,” coach Jay Hill said after the game. “Grant Sands has been a great snapper for us and he’s going to be OK. He missed the first one and then you stick with him. He does the second one and I’m like ‘Grant, you’re going to be OK, just chill, relax. Snap with your technique.'”

Clearly Sands did continue to snap with his technique, as he apparently airmailed three PAT snaps, which were luckily saved by the holder, and eventually he was pulled for a backup tight end. Perhaps the cruelest indignity for Sands and Weber State is that Montana State long snapper Tommy Sullivan had a killer game, accounting for zero safeties and even recovering a muffed punt that his team capitalized on to score one play later. After the game, Vigen knew who to shout out.