One of the staples of the beloved Peanuts was Lucy convincing Charlie Brown to attempt to kick a football while she held it, but inevitably pulled it back.
Saturday was the 61st anniversary of the first time that ran and Michigan State celebrated it in style.
Facing a 45-yard field goal, coach Mark Dantonio opted to call a fake for holder Mike Sadler. Its name: Charlie Brown.
”At some point in time, your head football coach has to take some chances,” Dantonio said. “I told our football team at halftime, ‘Hey, we’re going to roll the dice.’ I already made up my mind on that series if we got within field-goal range, we were running the field-goal fake, ‘Charlie Brown.’”
Sadler took the snap on fourth-and-1 from the Nebraska 27 and ran it three yards for a first down, even if the play wasn’t as designed.
“I was supposed to run the ball to the right,” Sadler said. “‘Charlie Brown’ was to the right and ‘Lucy’ was to the left. Lucy was the same play, but to the left.”
In fact, Sadler said he should have checked out of the play altogether based on the look Nebraska gave.
“The look that they gave us was different and I was supposed to check out of that and we were supposed to kick a field goal,” he said. “That’s why I ended up cutting the ball inside, it was supposed to go outside.
”As soon as I saw the hole I was supposed to be running to completely blocked, I realized that probably wasn’t going to be a good thing because you don’t want your 180-pound punter running up the middle and trying to juke people.”
Fortunately for Sadler and the Spartans, he managed to get the tough yards up the middle.
“He is a really strong,” quarterback Connor Cook said. “He is a lot stronger than you think. Anytime the ball is in his hands, I feel comfortable and feel like he is going to protect it and he’s going to.”
The drive finished with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Cook to Keith Mumphery and a 34-21 lead for MSU.
Sadler has been the focus of the past three fake punt/field goals for Michigan State. Last season at Michigan, he ran for 25 yards on a fake punt and went for 26 this year at Iowa.
With his four yards on this attempt, Sadler now has three attempts for 55 yards in his career – all resulting in first downs.