RALEIGH, November, 16th 2019 – Louisville leads conference foe N.C. State 27-17 after going on a 20-7 run since trailing 10-7 at the half. The Cardinals have the ball on the Wolfpack 7-yard line on 4th down with 9:49 left in the game. Louisville’s field goal unit with back-up kicker and redshirt sophomore, Ryan Chalifoux, filling in for school-record holding Blanton Creque, take the field. The kicking unit lines up on the left hash to attempt an obvious chip-shot field goal that would put the Cards ahead by two touchdowns with little time for N.C. State to make up the deficit.
What happened next would not only be shocking, but it would be hilarious and seared into our brains for eternity. Instead of doing the safe thing and kicking a routine 31-yard field goal, Scott Satterfield, who isn’t exactly known for his risky play calling, dialed up a fake field goal pass unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Instead of running a traditional fake field goal pass play where the ball is snapped to the placeholder (often a backup QB), the ball was directly snapped to the backup freaking kicker. If you weren’t immediately panicked and confused, you were wrong. We weren’t the only ones panicked and confused as N.C. State also had no idea what the hell was happening either.
The play was a simple one with a slight twist. It was a variation of the basic Fake FG K Flip Pass (see below). This play is where the kicker receives a direct snap and throws it to the RW/TE running a corner route/flat route. Simple enough. However, Satterfield added a wrinkle where the TE (Marshon Ford) ran a corner while the place holder (Mason King, THE PUNTER!) ran a shallow flat underneath. The kicker proceeds to roll out right on a “sprint-out” and is supposed to find the holder underneath while the defense bites on the usual TE running a corner.
However, like most things that turn out amazing, things did not go to plan at first. Chalifoux quickly found himself in a nightmarish situation: both receivers are completely covered and he has five defenders in front of him with no blockers.
When asked what he saw on the play Chalifoux said, “a lot, a lot of guys from N.C. State. A lot of black jerseys there.”
But where most would have panicked and either ran the ball only to get destroyed or have overthrown the ball through the back of the endzone, Chalifoux proved he is a pure passer despite zero experience playing quarterback.
First, Ryan recognizes that both his first and second reads are covered. He then decides to tuck the ball for a brief second and sell the defense on the run. He sells it so well that Mason King turns his back to try and block, but instead slips and falls.
As soon as this happens Ryan realizes that the two defenders covering Marshon Ford have taken the bait and that Ford is now standing free in the back of the endzone. This is where things get even more ridiculous. In almost textbook roll-out fashion, Chalifoux plants his left foot and throws off of his odd-numbered step (17th, lol). This allows Chalifoux to deliver an accurate pass to Ford in the back of the endzone while absorbing the hit from the defender. I have no explanation for how he knew any of that.
While it wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world, it was pretty good technique-wise. The result was even better.
Asked if he’d ever done any throwing before or in high school, Chalifoux laughed and said, “No. I played soccer my whole life.”
This play was outrageous and was the dagger for N.C. State. There was no real reason to run the play other than to completely demoralize a defense that had already been shredded. The call you make there 99% of the time is a kick to put the game out of reach. But as soon as the ball hit Ford (in the numbers!), the game was over.
Using the NCAA’s formula to calculate quarterback ratings (QBR), Ryan has a 488.8 QBR which is more than double the NCAA single season record of 199.4 held by Tua Tagovailoa (2018). Who cares about pass attempt minimums? Ryan is inarguably the most efficient passer in college history. Ryan also has shattered multiple Louisville and NCAA records with a 100% completion rate, 100% touchdown-per-pass-attempt average, and 0 career incompletions.
Satterfield and Chalifoux both mentioned that this had been a play the team’s been practicing all year, while Chalifoux had only been practicing it for two weeks(!) in the wake of Creque’s injury. Chalifoux mentioned Creque has been joking and giving him a hard time because he had wanted to run a fake for the last four years. However, no one could have known that Chalifoux was the perfect player for the perfect play.
While Ryan Chalifoux likely won’t find his way into the mix of the constant quarterback battle or the Heisman debate, it’s likely due out of fairness to the other players and to preserve his records.
Ryan won’t forget this play any time soon, and we definitely won’t either.