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Washington's Alphonzo Tuputala drops ball before end zone, taking pick-six off the board

Utah running back Sione Vaki (28) avoids a tackle from Washington linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala (11) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)
Utah running back Sione Vaki (28) avoids a tackle from Washington linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala (11) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Washington linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala looked like he had turned his first career interception into a pick-six at a pivotal part of Saturday’s home game vs. Utah.

But there was one problem. He forgot the ball.

With Washington ahead 33-28 late in the third quarter, Utah was driving and trying to take the lead when Tuputala intercepted a deflected pass from Utes quarterback Bryson Barnes. Tuputala caught Barnes’ pass on the move and had a clear path to the end zone. Once he outran Barnes, it looked like Tuputala would give the Huskies a two-score lead with a defensive touchdown.

Instead, he inexplicably dropped the ball before he crossed the goal line.

Tuputala was nearly two yards from the goal line when he dropped the ball behind him as he started to celebrate.

Utah offensive lineman Michael Mokofisi was hustling behind the play and had the presence of mind to pounce on the loose ball. After a quick review, the fumble was confirmed and the Utes offense regained possession at their own 1-yard line.

Luckily for Tuputala, his teammates picked him up. On the next play, Washington’s Tuli Letuligasenoa and Carson Bruener leaked into the backfield and brought down Utah’s Ja’Quinden Jackson for a safety.

The Huskies would hold on to win by that margin, 35-28.

Tuputala isn’t the first player to make that mistake. DeSean Jackson famously did it back in 2008 as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. There have been a few in college football, too. One involved Utah.

During Utah’s 2014 home game vs. Oregon, Kaelin Clay dropped the ball before reaching the end zone. The play was never blown dead, and an Oregon defender alertly picked up the ball and returned it 100-plus yards for a touchdown.

Tuputala is fortunate his gaffe didn’t have serious consequences for his team.