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Football players passing the ball down the field to a touchdown
UT Permian Basin is making headlines across the nation after the selfless act of sophomore John O’Kelley Saturday night. O’Kelley was on his way to an 85-yard touchdown when he turned and handed the football off to his teammate, senior Chris Hoad, who then scored a touchdown during his last college football game. 

UT Permian Basin is making headlines across the nation after the selfless act of sophomore John O’Kelley Saturday night.  

O’Kelley was on his way to an 85-yard touchdown when he turned and handed the football off to his teammate, senior Chris Hoad, who then scored a touchdown during his last college football game. 

 “The University is known for its strong academics. It is a University of Texas institution in the heart of the Permian Basin but we’re also in the home of Friday night lights. This spontaneous act of selfless kindness really demonstrates the hearts of our students. It really shows who we are as a University,” Dr. Sandra Woodley, UT Permian Basin President, said.  

Speaking of Friday night Lights, if you’ve seen the video then you’ve heard the play-by-play. That’s Barry Sykes behind the mic. Name sound familiar? It should. He’s been giving play-by-plays in West Texas since 1973. He called those famous Permian High School football games that West Texas would later be known for and if you’ve seen the “Friday Night Lights” movie you heard his voice there too. Sykes said, he knew the UTPB play between O’Kelley and Hoad would go down in history. 

In all the years of broadcasting football I have never seen such an unselfish act before. A D-lineman rarely gets a chance to score and for John to have the presence of mind in those moments as he was heading to the end zone to instead give the ball off to Chris, a senior playing in his final game for the Falcons, was just phenomenal. I will never see that again.” 

The two players behind the play, John O’Kelley and Chris Hoad, are just trying to soak it all in. Hoad said they can’t believe how big this has become. 

“It’s definitely blown up way bigger than I think anyone really thought it would” 

The act of sportsmanship is something Head Coach, Justin Carrigan explained can’t be taught. It simply speaks to the brotherhood the players have built.  

“I think it’s pretty cool and stuff like that happens organically. You can’t create those kind of moments. I think it was a tremendous display of brotherhoodIt’s what has been built here over the past four or five years.” 

“On the field, I was definitely hit with emotions by it and John being that selfless to hand me a touchdown my senior night was definitely special and something I have thanked him for many times over,” Hoad said. 

It’s definitely been an exciting time to be a Falcon but truth be told, it’s the stories behind O’Kelley and Hoad that should be making headlines. 

John O’Kelley suffered a season ending knee injury in 2018 and just two months before walking back on the field this year he lost his father to cancer.  

“With my dad passing the motivation is higher than ever to succeed and make him proud.” 

He credits his teammates, especially Chris Hoad, for helping him get through devastating loss.  

Chris came up to me and said, I’m playing this season for your dad and that meant the world to me.” 

“John has come a long way. Not just as a player but as a man. To battle back from that has been pretty impressive. It shows a lot of resiliency, Carrigan said. 

That resiliency hasn’t gone unnoticed. O’Kelley was recently nominated for the Mayo Clinic’s Comeback Player of the Year Award.  

It was a rough off season for me so to be rewarded or honored it’s pretty special and it means a lot. I’m thankful and I’m appreciative, O’Kelley said. 

Chris Hoad has had some impressive accomplishments himself.  As team captain, he led the nation with 157 tackles and is the current career leader across all NCAA divisions with 528 career tackles. But Hoad said it was truly a team effort.  

“It makes me proud to know that my hard work has paid off but I can’t take full credit for that because people like John and the teammates in front of me and behind me, they have made my job easier and they made it so I can make all of those plays. I just don’t feel right saying that’s all because of me because it’s not.  

Hoad has lived and breathed Falcon Football. He’s one of eight seniors that was with the program since its inception in 2015. Saying goodbye to this class has been emotional for Coach Carrigan.  

“It’s a special group. I think to come in as a first-time head coach it means a little more to me. My wife made the comment before the last game that the program is just not going to be the same without them and it’s true. It’s tough.” 

So, what’s next? John O’Kelley has two more years on the field for the Falcons and he has his eyes on the prize. 

We want a Conference championship. That’s the only way to go!” 

For Chris Hoad, his college career has ended but he hopes to take his football career to the next level. 

“Next is pursuing a professional career in football. I know it’s not going to be easy but nothing about my journey has been easy.” 

As for his dream team Well, let’s just say he’s looking to trade in his orange and black for blue and white. 

The Cowboys!” 

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