‘Pick six’ energizes defense, flips momentum

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I have never seen a game decided this quickly.

Believe it or not, Carmel’s offense was outplayed by its defense during the Sept. 11 game against Terre Haute South. The defense that has carried the Greyhounds all year long was absolutely brilliant on that Friday night. In particular, junior Matt Seward was phenomenal.

In the game, Seward had not only two interceptions (out of three on the season for the team), but had two defensive touchdowns. In the first quarter. On the first two defensive series.

That’s what announcers like to call a “pick six.” An interception is sometimes referred to as a “pick,” and the six stands for the six points scored off the play. Pick six. It rolls off the tongue nicely.

But while I can talk snappy wordplay all day long, it won’t help you understand how incredible this night was for Seward. This cornerback came to CHS as a transfer from Indianapolis Cathedral last year and was instrumental in Carmel’s defense against Cathedral, even in the loss.

The pick six is very elusive. So many different aspects of a play have to come together in a perfect storm for a touchdown to be scored off an interception. Nonetheless, Seward accomplished this feat not once, but twice against Terre Haute South.

Here, I’ll give you some perspective. In the National Football League, this feat has never been eclipsed. No player has ever returned more than two interceptions for touchdowns in a single game, much less a single quarter.

Furthermore, in an entire season, the record for pick sixes belongs to Jim Kearney, Ken Houston and Eric Allen. They all have had four pick sixes in a season before. Rod Woodson holds the all-time record for interceptions returned for touchdowns during a career, with 12.

Do you realize what Seward accomplished? In one quarter, the cornerback came within 10 pick sixes of the NFL all-time career record.

And not only did this put 14 points on the board for Carmel, but the effect that it had on the momentum of the game was astounding. After the second touchdown, the stadium was silent except for the press booth, where my co-announcer and fellow senior Nolan Blair was jumping up and down, trying to describe what had just happened to those watching the game on CHTV.

You would’ve sworn we’d just won the Super Bowl. Terre Haute South looked absolutely crushed. After two minutes of play, they’d attempted two passes, both of them intercepted and both returned for touchdowns. By Matt Seward.

The pick six is such a tough play to accomplish because it’s not a play, technically. The cornerback gets very few opportunities to make an interception, especially in high school, when offenses are based less on the pass and more on the run. Once that finally happens, he has no blocking except for what is improvised during the play.

Seward was the reason for Carmel’s victory that night. It’s a bold statement to make, but without Seward, Carmel would have been looking at a much more difficult game.

You probably won’t see twin pick sixes again for a long time. But with Seward in the secondary, nothing is out of the question.