Trick and treat.
Trick and treat.
It’s common knowledge among intent college-football followers Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has a soft spot in his heart for the pile-movers. Those on the periphery found out Saturday, too.
Arkansas offensive guard Sebastian Tretola tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to usual long-snapper Alan D’Appollonio early in the second quarter of the Razorbacks’ 45-17 win over UAB.
The Internet was ablaze moments later.
"I scored touchdowns in high school when I was playing tight end but that’s really the closest I’ve gotten to that," he said. "I’ve always been a fat boy so quarterback was never the position."
Tretola isn’t a typical offensive lineman. He’s a monster. At 6-foot-5, 340 pounds, he’s the heaviest player on the biggest offensive line in American football. That’s college, professional, or otherwise.
He’s also, apparently, of nimble foot and has a bit of a throwing arm.
On 4th and goal from the UAB 6, Arkansas scattered along the line of scrimmage. A trick play was obvious. The typical five aligned as offensive linemen, including D’Appollonio at center, a player split to a wingback position, another four guys split to the right beyond the far hash-mark and a final player lined up behind them. No one was prepared to receive the snap.
Tretola released from his left guard spot next to the Arkansas center, moved quickly - as quickly as a man his size can move, anyway - to a shotgun formation and took the snap. He stepped to his right and bounced a couple times farther that way as the UAB defenders closed. D’Appollonio slipped behind them and to the left. The bounces were critical as they gave Tretola time to air-mail a lob 12 yards in the air to his wide-open center on the goal line before he took a spill from the late-arriving Blazers defender.
Tretola pulled himself off the Razorback Stadium turf and struck the Heisman pose.
D’Appollonio and Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams both extolled Tretola’s athleticism after the game. Still, having practiced the play just four times, Williams was astonished it worked in a live game.
"I was so shocked that when we scored I couldn’t even celebrate," he said. "It was real exciting. But I knew he could throw. I know he’s a pretty decen athlete to be his size, so it was exciting to see."
It was a perfect highlight on a day in which positives were much-needed - and found - after nearly a month’s worth of disappointment.
Bielema told SEC Network sideline reporter Laura Rutledge at halftime, "Come to Arkansas, if you’re an (offensive) lineman, we’ll make you famous."
The coach has long preached about Arkansas on the cusp of greatness. His biggest talking point thoughout has been the Razorbacks’ need for more depth. Plays like Saturday’s go a long way in stating a case for fame and fun for the big boys.
Arkansas had been something of national darlings until last week’s 45-32 loss to Georgia. The Hogs pushed Texas A&M to the brink and did the same with Alabama in the previous two games. Both games probably should have been wins.
But they weren’t. And Saturday the Razorbacks were staring at a three-game losing streak, needing any good things to come their way. Contrived or not.
"A play like that, it’s a way for me to interact with our team," Bielema said. "It’s a fun way for me to get in front of the team and have a little fun with them, bring some energy. And the kids were so pumped when it A: got called and B: went and executed. It was pretty fun."
Jokes were littered across the Internet. Proclamations of #FatGuyTouchdown, a common meme and hashtag for those atypical touchdown scorers, was the norm on social media. Former Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen, whose nickname was "The Hefty Lefty" during his playing days, congratulated Tretola on Twitter.
"Congrats to the Arkansas OL that threw the TD. That’s one record I’m happy to give up. #fatmanthrowingtd #BBN," Lorenzen’s tweet read.
The reference to record was a joke Tretola is the biggest player in Southeastern Conference history to throw a touchdown pass. Arkansas’ left guard is gregarious under routine circumstances. Saturday was his time to shine.
"That’s fantastic," he said about Lorenzen’s tweet. "I was hoping for all-time but I heard there was a 402-pound guy who did it. But that’s cool. I appreciate it."
D’Appollonio’s catch was the second his career. He hauled in a 24-yarder on fourth down last year at Rutgers that provided a Razorbacks’ first down. But Tretola had never thrown a pass before. Bielema had seen him in fall practice tossing the ball around as a goof. The coach asked Tretola for an up-close look and the guard obliged, showing off his rollout skills.
The guard received the full quarterback experience after he stood up off the ground.
"I’ve got a whole newfound respect for B.A. (quarterback Brandon Allen), I tell you what, because it gets hectic back there."