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The CFL Remains An Innovator In The “What The Hell Just Happened?” Space

HAMILTON, ON - OCTOBER 02: Jeshrun Antwi #20 of the Montreal Alouettes gains yards after a pass reception against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field on October 2, 2021 in Hamilton, Canada. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)
John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images

The Petchesky Promise is this: If I'm on a Sunday shift, I will bring you the latest oddity from the cabinet of football curiosities that is the CFL. And so we have Montreal Alouettes running back Jeshrun Antwi doing something that looks like a big oopsie but is in fact brilliant:

That is in fact an onside punt, which only exists in Canadian football. The punting team cannot down a ball in the CFL; the receiving team must return it. That leads to the occasional strategy of teams punting in the hopes of recovering it themselves (here, watch a 10-minute compilation video of onside punts), but rarely if ever is it executed as self-containedly as Antwi did here.

Facing a second-and-18, Antwi—who has been playing Canadian-rules football since age 14—found himself with the ball, still shy of the line of scrimmage, and with no Ottawa Redbacks defenders in the vicinity. So he dribbled the ball off his foot, let it roll forward a yard or so, and then scooped it up. Per the rules, a successful onside punt means a reset of downs; from second-and-18 to first-and-10.

A lot had to go right here for Antwi to even attempt this, let alone succeed. The punt had to cross the line of scrimmage, and the offensive line had to be no more than one yard downfield when he "kicked" it. And because the rules prohibit the punting team from "interfer[ing] with an opponent attempting to recover the ball," Antwi would have been screwed if there had been a Redblacks defender anywhere near it.

But there wasn't! Genius. Though Montreal didn't score on the drive, they did win the game 32-15 to clinch a playoff spot. Not a bad thing to watch while you work your way through your Poutine Helmet.

H/t Allen

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