The scene was set.
Two scores down (24-10), with roughly 11 minutes to go in the game, the Rebel offense faced a 4th and a long 2 from their own 41.
Justin Sparks and the punt team came in to kick away - or so it seemed.
Instead, Deep Snapper Preston powers hiked the ball directly to Personal Protector Jason Cook, who was about five yards deep and took off toward the left side of the line
About two yards from the line of scrimmage, with defensive pursuit headed to the left side of hte Rebel offense, SS Jamarca Sanford, line up on the wing, darted in front of Cook going to the right, took a Cook handoff and sprinted for a first down to the 46.
Just a minute or two later, QB Brent Schaeffer, in for injured Seth Adams, launched a perfect 54-yard scoring bomb to WR Mike Wallace.
Instead of being almost out of the game, the Rebs cut the deficit to 24-17 and got some momentum going.
"That was a beautiful setup and call by Coach Hugh Freeze," said Coach Ed Orgeron Monday. "It worked exactly how he designed it."
For his part, Freeze was surprised - not that it netted a first down, but that Jamarca didn't score.
"Jamarca told me he'd score if we called it, but he tripped up and fell down. I was picking at him when he came off the field because he could have scored. He got tripped up by the turf monster," Freeze smiled, "but in actuality we needed the first down and were able to score from there anyway."
Hugh said it was same play the Rebs called against LSU last year that also netted a first down.
"The one at LSU last year barely got the first down because the Tigers gave us a little different look than we were expecting. The one against Vandy this year was wide open and never a doubt," he said. "We've had that play in for two years now, plus some others, but with trick plays you have to time calling them just right. That was perfect timing."
Hugh and the Rebel staff recognized earlier in the game that the play would work if the right opportunity arose.
"When we punted, Vanderbilt was putting two back deep and two guys on our gunners. That allowed us to get a hat on a hat, plus they were slanting and I knew if we caught them slanting it could be a real big play," he explained. "We started everything left to get them going that way and set up our blocks and Kendrick Lewis did a good job on their wide rusher showing punt so he would keep rushing. Also, Robert Hough did a great job on his pull block. Jamarca could still be running.
"I had to rag on him some, but not too much because we got the first down."
Last season, the Rebels needed a big play to seal the win over Memphis and the McCluster Fluster was called. WR Dexter McCluster lined up right behind the OL, took the ball and sprinted around the left end for a score.
Freeze says he has "a whole notebook" of trick plays.
"It's not hard coming up with trick plays. The key is knowing when to call them. It's all about timing," he closed.
As trick plays go, Coach O and his staff have been right on the money the last two seasons.
Fake punt 'perfect'
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