Decades ago families used to gather on New Year’s Day in front of a 12-inch television screen to watch the Rose Bowl Parade and the Rose Bowl football game. In the early days there were only a couple of other bowl games. Now, news reports say, more than 40 bowl games are played during the holiday season.
The 2017 Letongaloosa Community Junior College Leopards had their best season in the last 10 years. They won five games, lost five, and tied one. That record earned the Leopards an invitation to play in the Marginal Bowl against the Sand City Bison.
Many home towns submitted applications for a chance to host the Marginal Bowl. In their applications the cities reported their plans for the bowl parade and the number of seats available at their stadium. Applications routinely mentioned what treats and activities were planned for members of the Marginal Bowl Committee.
Some cities that weren’t selected to host the bowl complained of favoritism on the part of the Marginal Bowl Selection Committee. No wrongdoing was discovered, but to remove any hint of favoritism the committee decided to select the host city by a random process. As the cities’ applications came in, each was assigned a number. The number of each applying city was written on ping pong a ball. The balls were dropped into a rotating plastic bin. The city whose number was selected from the bin, won the opportunity to host the Marginal Bowl.
Thus it was that Pigeon Creek became host city for the 2017 Marginal Bowl. The Pigeon Creek Marginal Bowl Committee had promised to mount a parade that included at least 18 floats. The Marginal Bowl Queen and her two attendants would ride on a beautifully adorned float. Marginal Bowl Committee members would ride in an equally beautiful float directly behind the queen’s float. Nature smiled on Pigeon Creek the day the Marginal Bowl game was played. The sky was clear at game time. The temperature was 41 degrees which was high for Pigeon Creek at that time of year. Still, cheerleaders for both teams wore tights with their short skirts.
Days before the bowl parade, Pigeon Creek citizens placed folding chairs along Main Street to assure themselves of a spot to watch. Grocery stores and other businesses stocked up on merchandise in anticipation of a flood of out-of-town spectators.
It was a classic bowl game. The score was tied 7-7 at half time and the defenses of both teams continued to prevail in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth quarter. Then the Bison scored and took a 14-7 lead.
After that neither team could make a first down. As time ticked away the Bison team punted and the Leopards got the ball on their own 17-yard line. Somewhere in their heads they heard a bugle sounding “Charge!”. And down the field they went executing running plays and short pass plays to perfection.
The Leopards were first and ten on the Bison two-yard line when the rally ran out of gas. The Bison line held against a run and two pass plays. It was fourth and two. A field goal would do the Leopards no good. The officials called time out. The exhausted players on both teams grouped around their coaches.
Play resumed. “Hut two, hut two, hut, hut, hut.” The Leopards tried a quarterback sneak. The Bison line held. The drive had died. Time ran out. The game was over.
But before the Bison crowd could rush onto the field, the crowd heard a referee’s whistle.
All activity stopped. The teams froze in place. Officials conferred on the sideline. Then the head ref signaled a violation against the Bison:
“Defense. Twelve men on the field. Replay the last down.”
The Leopard quarterback threw a pass to his tight end.Touchdown!
At the victory parade on Main Street, two of Letongaloosa Community Junior College’s most ardent adversaries: Irma Farseer, the hardnosed dean of the Department of et. al. et. al., and the Leopard’s “Please don’t make classes so darn hard for my atha-letes” coach, stood side by side and smiled.
Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co