Jersey Swap

Illegal jersey swap costs North Carolina a possession in the oddest moment of Bowl season so far

December 29, 2022

Jersey swaps continue to be all the rage in football, though they are usually done well after the game is over. North Carolina punt returner George Pettaway attempted to pull off the unthinkable in the Holiday Bowl: an in-game jersey swap. Last game of the year, Brent, can't hold anything back now. 

Technically, this wasn't a true jersey swap between opponents, but rather a jersey switch by Pettaway in an attempt to disguise himself avoid a penalty for wearing the same jersey number as his teammate. In college football, two players are allowed to wear the same number, they just cannot be on the field at the same time. So Pettaway, No. 23, put an extra large No. 42 with no name on the back over his jersey to return an Oregon punt late in the third quarter. 

The problem? Pettaway did not report to the referee that he had done this, and his sticking out like a sore thumb earned him an illegal substitution penalty that gave the Ducks a first down instead of UNC getting the ball back. Ouch. 

The Tar Heels were able to force a quick three-and-out anyway, and this time Pettaway reported and returned the punt into Oregon territory while wearing the oversized No. 42 and causing a hilarious bit of confusion in the FOX broadcasting booth. Upon returning to the sideline, he quickly removed it as if he were changing costumes during a play:

You have to wonder if Pettaway maybe breaks this one for a touchdown if he's not getting slowed down by this big-ass jersey. It's amazing that there was once a time that those sized jerseys were the norm. Nowadays, the uniforms are so tight they almost look like body paint on some of these players, one of the many contributing factors to the game being faster than ever. 

UNC went on to kick a field goal on this drive, giving them a 10-point lead, which they unfortunately squandered late. Oregon tied the game at 27-27 with 19 seconds remaining, then ended it with one of the most stressful game-winning extra points you'll ever see:

Hold-your-breath type stuff. Bowl season finally starting to pick up steam, you love to see it.