Hail marys becoming the norm


County coaches say they practice the long pass

By Paul Adkins - [email protected]



Central Michigan’s Jesse Kroll catches a hail mary pass earlier in the season at Oklahoma State. He then pitched to Corey Willis, who ran in for a touchdown as the Chippewas upset the Cowboys 30-27 on the final play. The success rate of the hail mary pass seems to be increasing.


You’ve seen the hail mary pass over and over.

Either at the end of the half or the end of a game — it’s a last-ditch desperate attempt by a team which is behind to pull something out of a hat.

More than 99 percent of the time the hail mary is batted down by the defense and the ball falls harmlessly to the ground.

Game over.

But in recent weeks and years, there’s been something of a hail mary renaissance going on, particulary in college football.

More often than not the impossible is happening.

Are the defenses really that bad?

Come on.

You know it’s coming.

The latest greatest was last Saturday night in Athens, Ga., when Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs kept the Vols undefeated as he fired a 43-yard hail mary pass on the game’s final play, finding a leaping Jauan Jennings in the end zone as UT shocked homestanding Georgia in a 34-31 stunner.

Back in Week 2 of the regular season, Central Michigan found similar success and ended up shocking Big 12 member Oklahoma State 30-27 as quarterback Cooper Rush lofted a 53-yard pass to Jesse Kroll, who caught the ball at the 10-yard line and immediately flipped to Corey Willis. Willis then raced diagonally across the field, diving into the end zone for a touchdown and lifting the Chippewas to the win.

Back in the 2014 Bahamas Bowl, Central Michigan pulled off another hail mary and earned an Espy nomination as Rush connected on a long pass to Kroll. After the catch by Kroll and three laterals later, the Chippewas’ Titus Davis dove to the pilon for a touchdown — a play that went for 70 total yards. CMU went for the two-point conversion and the win but the pass play failed as the Chippewas lost 49-48 to Western Kentucky at Nassau.

In the 2015 season, BYU quarterback Tanner Mangum converted two hail mary passes — in back-to-back weeks incredibly — lifting the Cougars to wins over Nebraska and Boise State.

Back in 1980, BYU had another famous hail mary as QB Jim McMahon completed a 41-yard TD pass to Clay Brown on the game’s final play as the Cougars defeated SMU 46-45 in the Holiday Bowl.

In the 2014 season, seven hail mary passes were converted either before the half or at the end of games.

Perhaps the most famous hail mary pass of all time was in 1984 as Boston College quarterback Doug Flutie found Gerald Phelan in the end zone for a 48-yard TD pass as the Eagles stunned homestanding Miami 47-45.

Locally, Logan County’s three high school football coaches were asked if they practiced the hail mary from time to time or at least were asked if they had a play ready in case the situation ever came up.

Man coach Harvey Arms said he has his quarterback Cameron Simpson throw up a deep one every now and then at practice.

“Yeah, we throw one up every now and then but even in practice you don’t have a lot of success,” Arms said.

Arms said when it comes to a hail mary pass, luck is often what seems to make the play successful since the odds against converting are so existentially low.

“Just about every team seems to have that one play that they seem to work on to maybe try to get a score in a situation like that,” Arms said when asked about this year’s hail marys by Tennessee and Central Michigan. “When it comes down to it it probably comes down to having luck more than anything. Just about every team practices those end of the game situations. A lot of teams like the hook-and-ladder and you have the hail mary where you throw it deep and just hope that someone will pull it out of the air or maybe it gets bounced around a little bit. It’s more about luck.”

Logan coach Gary Mullins said he has strong-armed freshman quarterback David Early sometimes throw up deep 50-yard passes in one-on-one situations during practice but won’t run a full blown 11-on-11 play fearing injuries.

If you have seen Early any this fall you know that he’s got the arm to do it.

“We have worked on it some but the biggest thing with that we try to do is more one on one,” Mullins said. “If you put more people in there you risk injuries. We let them go one on one with each other.”

Since he’s been coaching for more than 10 years, Mullins said he’s never been in a game where the hail mary has worked.

“I don’t remember any since I’ve been here,” he said. “But it would be an awesome feeling at the end of the game to get one of those for sure. You never know but hopefully we won’t be in that situation because that usually means that you are losing.”

Logan has some skilled athletic wide receivers like Braxton Goff, who stands 6-foot-4, and high-jumping Jamal Minter at 6-2, who would be prime targets for a possible hail mary if the situation arises.

“If it ever comes to that we definitely have some guys that can jump up there and get it,” Mullins said. “I think there’s a lot of great athletes out there and if you give them one more try a lot of times they are successful. That’s why it’s important on defense because one more play might beat you.”

Class AA No. 16-ranked Chapmanville (4-2) hosts county rival and No. 12 Man (4-1) on Friday night.

The two teams were involved in an exciting finish in last year’s game at Man.

With the game tied 28-28, Chapmanville was able to convert a short hail mary of sorts with only 17 seconds left as QB Alex Berry avoided the sack and tossed a 28-yard touchdown pass to an open Noah Dingess in the end zone for the game-winner.

Chapmanville first-year coach Rob Dial said his team really does not work on the hail mary pass during practice but have plays in the playbook that can be used if they are ever needed.

“If the situtation does come around we do have a play in place that hopefully we will be able to execute if we need it and pull the rabbit out of the hat,” Dial said. “I made the comment to our players last week about being in position for those types of plays and not to allow those kinds of plays to happen. Your going to have crazy plays in a ballgame. It’s important for us to play as well as we can so the game won’t come down to one crazy play at the end.”

There’s always the trick plays too.

Logan, under the leadership of Coach Mullins, have had their share over the last 13 years with the Wildcats’ famous hook-and-ladder play.

How many times has that been converted over the years by Logan?

The Wildcats have almost perfected it down to a science.

“Gary is going to run the hook-and-ladder on you,” Dial said. “We joke about that all the time.”

Chapmanville will go for its third straight county championship on Friday as the Tigers host the Hillbillies. If Man wins, that will force a three-way tie for the county crown.

No. 20-ranked Logan (3-2) hits the road to play at Class AAA John Marshall (1-5) on Friday night.

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County Championship Series

Chapmanville-Logan-Man

2016

Man at Chapmanville, Friday night

Chapmanville 29, Logan 8

Logan 48, Man 13

———

2015

Man 18, Logan 13

Chapmanville 35, Man 28

Chapmanville 43, Logan 26

Chapmanville (2-0) county champions

———

2014

Chapmanville 26, Man 20 (2 OT)

Chapmanville 48, Logan 42 (OT)

Man 32, Logan 26 (OT)

Chapmanville (2-0) county champions

———

2013

Man 26, Chapmanville 22

Logan 40, Man 20

Logan 27, Chapmanville 14

Logan (2-0) county champions

———

2012

Chapmanville 20, Man 0

Logan 33, Man 0

Logan 20, Chapmanville 0

Logan (2-0) county champions

———

2011

Chapmanville 61, Man 14

Logan 30, Man 7

Logan 22, Chapmanville 21

Logan (2-0) county champions

———

2010

Chapmanville 55, Man 26

Logan 55, Man 18

Chapmanville 35, Logan 20

Chapmanville (2-0) county champions

———

2009

Chapmanville 16, Man 14

Man 34, Logan 7

Chapmanville 21, Logan 14

Chapmanville (2-0) county champions

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2008

Chapmanville 21, Man 3

Logan 14, Man 12

Chapmanville 21, Logan 6

Chapmanville (2-0) county champions

———-

2007

Chapmanville 40, Man 12

Logan 33, Man 14

Chapmanville 13, Logan 12

Chapmanville (2-0) county champions

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2006

Chapmanville 8, Man 0

Man 18, Logan 13

Logan 14, Chapmanville 7

Tie (all three 1-1 records)

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2005

Man 28, Chapmanville 14

Logan 12, Man 10

Logan 42, Chapmanville 6

Logan (2-0) county champions

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2004

Man 48, Chapmanville 20

Man 22, Logan 18

Logan 29, Chapmanville 6

Man (2-0) county champions

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2003

Man 20, Chapmanville 12

Logan 18, Man 0

Chapmanville 20, Logan 14

Tie (all three 1-1 records)

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2002

Man 12, Man 8

Logan 27, Man 6

Logan 27, Chapmanville 8

Logan (2-0) county champions

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2001

Man 13, Chapmanville 12

Logan 19, Man 0

Logan 21, Chapmanville 0

Logan (2-0) county champs

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TOTAL COUNTY TITLES

Chapmanville 6

Logan 6

Man 1

Ties 2

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CLASS AA Football Ratings

1. Fairmont Senior 12.80 5-0 1

2. Bridgeport 12.17 6-0 2

3. Point Pleasant 11.00 6-0 4

4. Mingo Central 10.40 5-0 5

(tie) Nicholas County 10.40 5-0 6

6. James Monroe 9.20 4-1 3

7. North Marion 9.00 4-1 t7

(tie) Sissonville 9.00 4-1 t9

9. Weir 8.67 5-1 12

10. Herbert Hoover 8.40 4-1 t9

11. Independence 8.17 5-1 13

12. Man 7.60 4-1 14

13. Lewis County 7.50 4-2 t7

14. Keyser 7.33 4-2 17

(tie) Lincoln 7.33 4-2 t18

16. Chapmanville 6.83 4-2 t18

17. Roane County 6.80 4-1 15

18. Winfield 6.60 3-2 t9

19. Liberty Harrison 6.50 4-2 —

20. Logan 6.00 3-2 20

Central Michigan’s Jesse Kroll catches a hail mary pass earlier in the season at Oklahoma State. He then pitched to Corey Willis, who ran in for a touchdown as the Chippewas upset the Cowboys 30-27 on the final play. The success rate of the hail mary pass seems to be increasing.
http://loganbanner.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/web1_Jesse-Kroll-hail-mary-CMYK.jpgCentral Michigan’s Jesse Kroll catches a hail mary pass earlier in the season at Oklahoma State. He then pitched to Corey Willis, who ran in for a touchdown as the Chippewas upset the Cowboys 30-27 on the final play. The success rate of the hail mary pass seems to be increasing.
County coaches say they practice the long pass

By Paul Adkins

[email protected]

(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).

(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).

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