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Countdown to Kickoff: 61 Days

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Look, I know this one is a bit of a stretch. It’s a field goal in a high school game. Big deal? But, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about the rarest of rares in football… the fair catch kick. Plus, it involves a current Auburn walkon and it happened at Auburn High, so there’s a bit of a hometown vibe to it.

In a 2015 regular season game against Smiths Station, in the last seconds of the first half, Auburn had fair caught a punt near midfield. Instead of trying to go deep to the endzone on a pass, head coach Adam Winegarden had a better play in mind. You see, when a punt is fair caught, the offense actually has two options. The first, and more obvious, is to start a possession on first down with the ball where the fair catch was made. The other is to attempt a field goal… sort of. Let’s look at the official NFL rule (10.4.2) on the matter:

ARTICLE 4. PUTTING BALL IN PLAY AFTER FAIR CATCH. After a fair catch is made, or is awarded as the result of faircatch interference, the receiving team has the option of putting the ball in play by either a:

(a) fair-catch kick (drop kick or placekick without a tee) from the spot of the catch (or the succeeding spot after enforcement of any applicable penalties) (3-10 and 11-4-3), or

(b) snap from the spot of the catch (or the succeeding spot after enforcement of any applicable penalties).

Put simply, a fair-catch kick can be performed from the spot on the field that the ball was fair-caught. There is no snap, no defense trying to block, simply a kicker (either a punt or with a holder) aiming at the field goal.

When Sage Ledbetter, the kicker for Auburn High, lined up for the kick, it would be for a state-record 61 yards. Take a look!

Sage would end up walking on at Auburn, and even kicked a ball off against ULM this past season. Although I don’t think he will be passing Anders Carlson on the depth chart any time soon, I couldn’t help but share this fun story for our countdown.