Rockwood High School football coach John Webb still is racking his brain to determine why star running back Isiah Jones was flagged for taunting after scoring a touchdown late in Friday’s 34-27 overtime loss to Grace Christian Academy.
The infraction was Jones’ second personal foul for unsportsmanlike conduct in the game and resulted in an ejection, meaning the standout runner, who transferred from Oak Ridge last season, will miss Friday’s matchup with area rival Harriman.
“We hoped to appeal it,” Webb said on Monday. “It’s kind of a losing battle. That’s one of those things the TSSAA will not review: An official’s judgment call. I’ve contacted the Knoxville (TSSAA) supervisors and given them film to look at to determine if there was just cause for that.”
Video of the play, which was captured by Rockwood Sports Network and posted on Twitter by the network’s Chase Clem, makes the question relevant.
It shows Jones running off-tackle to the right side before stumbling into the end zone. He then threw his hands up in celebration as the camera cut to the line judge, who signaled the touchdown.
The side judge, standing farther away from Jones than the line judge, is shown throwing the flag as the camera pans back to Jones, who passed the ball between his legs before tossing it to an official.
— Chase (@tweetchase25) September 21, 2015
“They told me he was taunting,” Webb said. “When we score, I turn around and get our extra point team on the field. I didn’t see what happened. I see the official throw the flag, I get the extra point team on the field. The (referee) comes over, I asked him, ‘What’d he do?’
“ ‘He was taunting coach.’ I said, ‘OK.’ I didn’t see it. Then I get home, I start looking at the film, and we had another angle of film that gave us more reason to believe that if that’s taunting, every touchdown in Knox County the rest of this season is taunting.”
Webb said his other players didn’t report any misconduct from Jones on the play. The officials report didn’t state what Jones specifically did, only that taunting occurred.
“He was obviously mouthing earlier in the game, which is why he was flagged the first time,” Webb said. “We got the ruling back from the TSSAA, and the ruling said he was not following officials’ instruction. (Grace Christian) had a guy flagged in the game, too. Play was stopped at one point, and officials told the captains to get it under control.”
Harold Denton, TSSAA supervisor for Knoxville, affirmed the TSSAA’s stance on judgment calls.
“There’s not a thing you can do about it,” Denton said. “The only thing I can tell you is it was the kid’s second foul of the night, and there had been some ongoing issues.”