Now this is a proper college football big man celebration. We give you Maryland Terps center Johari Branch, who cart-wheeled his way into the end zone Saturday against Northwestern.
Let’s be honest — the only time you ever notice an offensive lineman is if he draws a penalty. And Branch, one of the three game captains, did get a flag. Except this Maryland Terp drew a yellow flag for personal foul, excessive celebration. This is how the officials calling the Maryland-Northwestern defined excessive celebration.
Branch, all 6-foot-3, 330 pounds of him, gracefully performed a cartwheel. The American and German judges, along with the guys in the Big Ten Network booth gave him a 9. But the guy in stripes threw down yellow, because you can’t have any fun after touchdowns.
Branch was celebrating a particularly impressive touchdown. The Maryland Terps broke a tie late in the fourth quarter when a basic running play turned spectacular. Northwestern had just tied the game at 24-24. Then on Maryland’s first play from scrimmage, tailback Roman Hemby took the handoff and blasted through the left side of the line. Then it was a 75-yard sprint to the end zone.
So if you’re a Maryland Terp o-lineman, wouldn’t you celebrate this touchdown?
College football fans on social media certainly had thoughts about the penalty. It could’ve impacted a tight game. Officials assessed it on the kickoff. Northwestern got better field position as a result, with a first down at the Wildcats own 32. But two plays later, a Maryland Terp defender sealed the victory with an interception.
Jeff Ermann, who founded a Maryland Terp fan site, tweeted: “Maryland continues to invent new penalty scenarios weekly. This time: offensive lineman Johari Branch with an unsportsmanlike for cartwheeling to celebrate Roman Hemby’s 75-yard TD run. It was a very fluid cartwheel for a huge person, though.”
Did you know that Maryland is the most penalized team in the Big Ten? The Terps are creative with the yellow flags.
One Fan Says Give This Maryland Terp a Gold Medal
And we’ve got another pithy observation: “330-pound Johari Branch ran 75 yards with Hembry and then did a cartwheel to celebrate the touchdown. That’s not a penalty, that’s a gold medal.”
There was other high praise. If it can’t be a Big Man Touchdown, then a Big Man Cart Wheel will do.
“The Johari Branch cartwheel is a top five moment this season. Change my mind,” one fan tweeted.
And of course, there was overall criticism of officiating. Every conference’s officials are the worst ever, depending on which fans are doing the whining. It’s a college football tradition.
An observer posted: “A Big Ten official saw a linebacker tackle a QB by his facemask, called it a great play, and then threw a flag because a lineman did a cartwheel by himself 20 yards away from anyone else. These guys are just complete clowns.”