Milton (Tre’) Bugg III knew the play was out of the ordinary, and he was thrilled to score his first collegiate touchdown.
But only moments after its conclusion did the Air Force cornerback grasp the craziness of what might go down as the Play of the Year in college football and make its way onto highlight films for years to come.
“When I came to sideline and saw three cameras staring at me, it started to hit me then,” said Bugg, a junior from Arizona.
The play began with Hawaii at the Air Force 4-yard line with about 4 minutes remaining and the Falcons leading by 17 points.
Rainbow Warriors quarterback Cole McDonald threw a short out pattern that Air Force safety Grant Theil jumped, deflecting the ball.
Theil fell to the ground and the ball came down on top of him. It hopped five times, working its way down onto his leg, where it hopped up and into Bugg’s hands.
He sprinted 95 yards to the end zone, capping the scoring in Air Force’s 56-26 victory at Aloha Stadium.
Everyone seemed puzzled as to how the ball had avoided the ground for that long. The officials stopped play for a review, but it confirmed the call.
“I thought (Theil) was going to catch it, of course, but coach Rud (defensive coordinator John Rudzinski) and coach (Chip) Vaughn always stress running to the ball,” Bugg said. “Tipped balls may mean picks. So I was just going to be in the vicinity. And it bounced to me.”
It was Bugg’s third interception of the season.
“My first time in the open field,” he said. “Felt really good to do what I did with it.”
The CBS Sports Network broadcasting team showed the play multiple times, then followed Bugg on the sideline.
This is a player bold enough to have asked singer/actress Zendaya to Air Force’s ring dance through social media, so the former three-star recruit is more the type to court the spotlight than shy away from it. But even he didn’t foresee this kind of play happening.
“Some plays in football just seem to happen,” Bugg said, “and that just seemed to happen.”