I’ve witnessed a lot of trick plays in my day. Boise State’s Statue of Liberty to beat Oklahoma is timeless. Antwaan Randle El throwing a reverse-pass touchdown to Hines Ward in Super Bowl XL nearly stopped my heart. North Texas’ mean fake punt return is going to be attempted, but never duplicated again.
In real life, a perfectly-executed trick play is rare. When Coach Herman Boone drew up the game-winning play in Remember The Titans, it solidified that movie in my mind (and hopefully yours) as the greatest sports movie ever made.
Yes, Remember The Titans was based on real events in Virginia. Alexandria’s schools actually integrated to form T.C. Williams High School in 1971, and the football team really won the state championship in its first season led by head coach Herman Boone and Bill Yoast — they were portrayed in the film by Denzel Washington and Will Patton.
The climax of the film came in the title game against Marshall, when Coach Boone, with counsel from Coach Yoast, called the greatest trick play in football movie history in the waning seconds of the game.
Fake 23 Blast with a Backside George Reverse
Quarterback Ronnie Bass, who filled in for an injured Jerry “Rev” Harris earlier that season, paved the way as lead blocker for Rev, who raced up the sideline and into the end zone for the winning touchdown.
In reality, this fourth-quarter play with no time on the clock did happen against a great Marshall team, but it came during a mid-season matchup earlier that season. The real 1971 state championship game was much less dramatic than the made-for-Hollywood reenactment, as the T.C. Williams Titans throttled Andrew Lewis High School, 27-0, to win the title.
Remember The Titans Cast
Denzel Washington — Coach Herman Boone
Will Patton — Assistant Coach Bill Yoast
Wood Harris — DE Julius Campbell
Ryan Hurst — LB Gerry Bertier
Donald Faison — RB/LB Petey Jones
Craig Kirkwood — QB Jerry “Rev” Harris
Ethan Suplee — OL Louie Lastik
Ryan Gosling — LB Alan Bosley
Burgess Jenkins — TE Ray Budds
Kip Pardue — QB Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass
Hayden Panettiere — Sheryl Yoast
Nicole Ari Parker — Carol Boone (Herman Boone’s wife)
Kate Bosworth — Emma Hoyt (Gerry Bertier’s girlfriend)
The critically-acclaimed movie was directed by Boaz Yakin and is remembered as arguably the greatest sports movie of all time.
For the sake of comparison (and because I’m writing this in quarantine during the coronavirus outbreak of 2020 and am preparing to re-watch every single one), here are some of the great trick plays in sports movie history.
Football Movie Trick Plays
“The Oopty Oop”: Varsity Blues
“The Annexation of Puerto Rico”: Little Giants
“The Flying V”: The Mighty Ducks
Bobby Boucher Wins Bourbon Bowl: The Waterboy