Air Force registered one of the craziest plays of the college football season at Hawaii, when safety Grant Theil broke up a pass that then bounced off his body five times before cornerback Milton (Tre’) Bugg grabbed it out of the air and sprinted 95 yards for a touchdown in the Falcons’ 56-26 victory at Hawaii.
Here’s a brief oral history of the play from Bugg, Theil and fellow defenders linebacker Demonte Meeks and safety Eric Ward.
MILTON (TRE’) BUGG: Grant made a great break to the ball. He didn’t catch it, but it stayed in the air.
GRANT THEIL: When I was on my side I was trying to locate the ball. But once I was on my back and I saw where the ball was, I actually was trying to kick it back to myself and before I knew it when it was in the air Tre’ popped out of nowhere.
BUGG: I thought he was going to catch it, of course, but (defensive coordinator John Rudzinski) and (secondary) coach (Chip) Vaughn always stress running to the ball and tipped balls may mean picks. So I was just going to be in the vicinity. And it bounced to me.
ERIC WARD: I was pressing the dude on the ball, and my dude ran a corner, so I had my back to everything that was going on. I turn around and I see Grant’s leg go up in the air, kick the ball up and I see Tre’ catch the ball. I’m like, ‘Jesus Christ, they’re about to take off.’
BUGG: I just caught the ball, saw the end zone and I just took off.
WARD: So Tre’ took off and I was tired on that drive, to be honest with you. So I was trying to chase after him but I had to tap out, there was nothing I could do. As I was running I could see (Hawaii’s) Cole McDonald, their quarterback, just take off out of my peripheral. I was just like, ‘Please don’t catch him,’ because I knew this was a special play. I was like, ‘Please don’t catch Tre’ Bugg.’ Once he whiffed, it was just a celebration in the end zone.
BUGG: I got tackled after my first pick (against Colgate), made kind of a bad read on the field. But it was my first time in the open field, so it felt really good to do what I did with it.
DEMONTE MEEKS: That’s grit. That’s grit for sure. That was a tough drive. I was winded. I know Tre’ was winded, too. But Tre’ and Grant balled out. Tre’ took it to the house. We love to see that. Love to see it.
BUGG: Afterward when I came to sideline and saw three cameras staring at me, it started to hit me then (what a unique play that was).
WARD: We were giving Grant a lot of flak, of course, for dropping the pick. But we were surprised at how it all ended up coming out. We saw the play on the big screen and we were like, there is absolutely no reason that should, there’s no way it should have come out like that.
THEIL: I’d be lying to you if I told you that’s how we wanted it to happen. Unfortunately, I did drop the pass, but Tre’ was there to make a great play. I don’t know, it just slipped out and I was able to kick it up and Tre’ was right there.
BUGG: Some plays in football just seem to happen. That one just seemed to happen.
THEIL: It’s been cool to be a part of it. But it’s just one of those plays where the ball was bouncing the right way.
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