The NFL played some big-time games on Christmas. One of those games, the Baltimore Ravens vs. San Francisco 49ers had major implications for the NFC and AFC playoff pictures. However, many fans’ biggest takeaway came from a strange incident involving Lamar Jackson and a referee.
In the 1st quarter of the game, the score stood 0-0, but the 49ers got on the board first, making the score 2-0 after a safety. If that wasn’t strange enough, the safety came on an intentional grounding penalty. Still not weird enough? The safety came when Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson tripped over umpire Alex Moore and could not throw the ball far enough to get it back over the line of scrimmage, resulting in the penalty and 2 points for the ‘9ers.
Jackson got his feet tangled up with Moore after the umpire fell down trying to back up behind the play. On his way down to the ground (which would have been a safety), Jackson did the only thing he could do and flung the ball away. Because it didn’t reach the line of scrimmage, the intentional grounding opened the game’s scoring in a strange way.
South Carolina football fans watching the game had a horrible case of deja vu while watching Jackson’s trip.
Back in 2008, the Gamecocks were hosting LSU at Williams-Brice Stadium and were ready to take a lead over the Tigers right before halftime. USC quarterback Stephen Garcia kept the ball on 1st-and-goal, went right, and then bounced it back to the left side where he met Wilbur Hackett, Jr.
Wilbur Hackett, Jr. was the umpire on the play (the same referee position that tripped up Lamar Jackson on Christmas), and the former All-American linebacker at Kentucky (yes, you read that correctly), stepped up and tackled Garcia with a surprising forearm to his upper body.
The Gamecocks went on to score on the drive, so the play didn’t have a major impact on the fact that Carolina couldn’t pull off the win (getting shut out in the 2nd half was the real problem), but the play still lives in infamy in South Carolina football fans’ minds.
Lamar Jackson and Stephen Garcia now share an extremely strange brotherhood. Another link between the two plays is Jadeveon Clowney. The all-time great Gamecock defensive end played with Garcia a few years after the 2008 Hackett hit in 2011 and now plays with Jackson with the Ravens.