With just 10 seconds left on the clock and a two-point lead, it looked as if the Michigan Wolverines would defeat the Michigan State Spartans Saturday night in a close fought game.
All the Michigan punter had to do was kick the ball away, and the game would be over with the Wolverines coming out on top with a win at home in Ann Arbor.
U-M punter Blake O’Neill had already done it seven times during the game, averaging 44.6 yards per punt.
But the final punt of the game? That one turned out differently.
Instead of booting the ball down the field, U-M punter Blake O’Neill fumbled the ball and botched the punt. The mistake gave the Michigan State Spartans an opportunity to scoop up the ball and head for the end zone for one final — and stunning — play.
When Spartan Jalen Watts-Jackson ran the ball in for the final touchdown, the score changed to favor Michigan State, 27-23. It was Michigan State’s first lead of the game and the only one that mattered, as there was no time left on the clock.
Michigan State fans and players alike celebrated in exuberance and shock, while Michigan fans stared on in disbelief.
It didn’t take long for some of those Michigan fans to begin to direct their frustration and anger at the only person they could blame. Within minutes of the end of the loss to Michigan State, Michigan punter Blake O’Neill began receiving nasty messages and death threats on social media.
Time to play GTA and pretend every person I hit with a car is Blake O’Neill
— Joe Tomczak (@J_Tomczak19) October 17, 2015
How does it feel to have bricks for hands???? @blakewoneill
— Neil. (@neilakazeus) October 17, 2015
As mentioned by MLive, some of the more nasty tweets directed at the Michigan punter have been deleted. Still, there is plenty of vitriol being thrown O’Neill’s way, and nearly everyone who mentions O’Neill negatively is encouraging him to transfer.
After a burst of negative comments directed at O’Neill, many fans also came out in support of the punter. Those supportive fans attempted to remind the angry Twitter users that, up until the fumble, O’Neill had played a phenomenal game — one that even included an 80-yard punt.
Additionally, fans attempted to remind others that the Michigan-Michigan State game was just that — a football game played among kids and young adults.
Search the Michigan punter’s handle right now and you will see the dark side of humanity. @blakewoneill… Leave the kid alone.
— Theodore Kim (@TheoTypes) October 17, 2015
— Pat Stansik (@patstansik) October 17, 2015
— 〽️HailToTheVictors〽️ (@MichiganNation2) October 18, 2015
— Dana Jacobson (@danajacobson) October 18, 2015
Blake O’Neill has not posted to social media since Michigan’s loss in Ann Arbor.
Regardless of the mistake made by the Michigan punter, it looks as if many fans are willing to look past the loss to Michigan State and forgive O’Neill’s flubbed punt. Though much of the initial reaction was negative, the tide seems to have shifted in an effort to show forgiveness for Blake O’Neill’s error.
Find out more about the Michigan-Michigan State game in the video below, in which Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook discusses the team’s stunning win.
[Photos by Christian Peterson/Getty Images Sports]