BOSTON (CBS) – A touchdown celebration cost a Boston high school team a championship over the weekend.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Carl Stevens reports

As Cathedral High School played Blue Hills in the Massachusetts Division 4A Super Bowl Saturday, quarterback Matthew Owens ran the ball in for a fourth quarter touchdown and what appeared to be a game-winner.

But just before he reached the end zone, Owens was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct-excessive celebration for putting his left hand in the air.

Watch: The Play

The ball was brought back to the 24-yard line and moments later Owens threw an interception and Cathedral ended up losing 16-to-14.

WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton reports

The quarterback’s father, Kenneth Owens, suggests that the referee had a personal agenda against his son.

“They could have counted the touchdown which was not in question and they could have penalized them on the kickoff. And there’s no one on either side that would have had a problem with that,” Owens said.

Students at Cathedral say it’s sad to see their perfect 12-0 season come to such and disappointing end, but what parents and coaches are most proud of is how the players conducted themselves in this championship loss.

It would have been Cathedral’s first Super Bowl win in school history.

But, before the game, both teams were warned about unnecessary celebrations.

The MIAA is looking into the penalty.

The school wants to know more about the rules, so something like this never happens again.

Comments (66)
  1. gramps says:

    Mr. Jim Brown:

    No excuses….No ‘narcissistic celebrations’….he is “Just the greatest running back of all times”!

    Today’s kids & some parents, are not use to rules & consequences….
    Until it’s too late

    They were ‘for warned’ B/4 the game…..

    Somebody either didn’t care or listen…..So everybody ‘PAYS’


    1. gramps says:

      MIAA Rule 49.8 – Fighting and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties will be within the authority of the official at all times at the contest site. The official’s authority extends to pre and post game oversight.

      1. JOHN says:


      2. gramps says:

        Listen to his ‘STATS’, their right @ the beginning!

        Never wore ‘thigh pads’…..OUCH!

      3. gramps says:

        Morning Frank & John, again,

        As I previously said:

        I’ll bet if the ‘kid’ waited to celebrate till after he crossed the goal line, the TD would’ve counted & they would have had 15 yards tacked on at the subsequent kick off….

        How many times do you see ‘Morons’ doing a dance & their behind by two+ touchdowns, it’s silly…..The I & Me mentality…..Act like you’ve been there B/4 & you’ll be right back, on the next possesion.

        Dance when you’ve won the game…Untill then, “Ya got a job to do”……

        ‘Play Football’!


        I feel that dancing should be confined to the dance floor….

    2. FireGuyFrank says:

      Gramps, I get that the MIAA wants to do away with “dances” and other planned celebrations. However, what’s wrong with spiking the ball or, in this case, being HAPPY and raising an arm in a sense of accomplishment?

      Had the kid turned to his opponent and pointed at him, shown him the ball, or gone into some planned routine after scoring, I say throw the flag.

      We need to get a grip.

    3. JOHN says:

      GRAMPS, C’mon man are you serious? The kid raised his arm and THAT IS ALL HE DID. It was raised for 2 seconds if that. You must have a RELATIVE or CLOSE friend on that team from Blue Hillls! I would like to ask you 1 question and I hope you are honest. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A CALL LIKE THAT IN YOUR LIFE? I REST MY CASE!!!!!!

    4. JAMES says:


  2. Jack says:

    What a joke to call that unsportsmanlike conduct! He didn’t taunt or dance or get in anyone’s face.

    It is ridiculous to penalize an athlete for being happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. JOHN says:

      I agree w/you 100%. That was an unbelievable call. I am still SCHOCKED and the REF who made that call HAS TO BE FIRED. He had something against Cathedral. I promise you that!! Did u see the comment from GRAMPS? Is he for real or just a miserable OLD MAN

      1. gramps says:

        Morning ‘Johnie Boy,

        I’ll bet if the ‘kid’ waited to celebrate till after he crossed the goal line, the TD would’ve counted & they would have had 15 yards tacked on at the subsequent kick off….

        It’s not knowing ‘How’ it’s knowing ‘WHEN’! (if @ all)


        “I thrive on ‘rejection'”.

      2. gramps says:

        Menino makes a statement about a Ref’s call in a ‘High School’ football game…Yet Mum’s(bles) the word on the on the ‘judgement’ call made by ‘His’ School Department management team, regarding a little 1st graderwho was attacked in ‘Southie’.

        “‘Gutless’….’no balls’ management”


      3. JOHN says:

        Hey Gramps.
        Mumbles is a piece of work!!! that was funny. Oh, you are sill wrpng lol

  3. chilitokid says:

    I thought they didn’t keep score in Massachusetts sports as long as everyone had fun so who cares who won? And you do know those Catholic schools can’t thank God like the pros….that’s unacceptable just like Santa saying Merry Christmas in your state.

  4. john rowell says:

    WOW!! I am totally SHOCKED at that CALL!! Are you kidding me? This is a joke right? I am 54 yrs old and THAT IS THE WORST CALL I HAVE SEEN IN MY LIFE! That Ref has to be investigated. I am dead serious

  5. FireGuyFrank says:

    So I guess any celebration is unnecessary?

    What if the MIAA decides the penalty was incorrect? Will Cathedral be the champion then?

    Leaving penalties to officials’ personal opinion is a problem in all leagues at every level.

  6. Dave Brooks says:

    i REALLY hope the kids who “won:” this game arent the least bit proud of it..

  7. BILL says:

    that is a bad call just watch the NFL it is the same but they dont make that call

  8. sean says:

    Terrible call. So now every time a kid scores in hockey and raises his stick does that mean the goal will be called back too?

  9. Frank Garofalo says:

    The call was VERY BAD, winning the game should be a happy event. Showing how you feel is NOT a bad thing. When the touch down was not counted, I believe that it was a call against agianced the constatution.

    Frank G

  10. web says:

    Does unnecessary celebration include smiling? What a sad call. Shame on the ref. Bad call.

  11. NorthShore says:

    The rule is pretty clear. What part of “within the authority of the official at all times” is confusing?

    1. FireGuyFrank says:

      In fact, NorthShore, everything you put in quotes is confusing. I would not have called that a penalty. By leaving “within the authority of the official”, you run the risk of the official making a call a certain way.

  12. JOHN says:

    GET A LIFE !! ARE YOU FOR REAL?? DID U SEE THE VIDEO? OR ARE A PIECE of #@%& in real lfe? hehehehe

  13. RS says:

    After watching the video of the touchdown many times, I have yet to see a show of unsportsmanlike conduct. The kid did not taunt any players on the Blue Hills team, he was excited and probably playing in the biggest game of his life. How can you take a half of a second arm motion and call it “unsportsmanlike conduct”? If that is the case, I think the MIAA better look back on all of the high school superbowl videos from Saturday and I am quite sure they will find that he was not the only excited kid who played and showed some type of emotion.

  14. D. Neil says:

    You may not agree with the call, or the MIAA rule that the officials made very clear at the beginning of the game, but please don’t diminish the achievements of the Blue Hills team. They earned their spot and they earned their win. Blue Hills played by the rules and they were ahead for the entire game. If the Cathedral touchdown had been counted, they would have been ahead, but that was not necessarily the winning play. Despite various reports, there were at least four minutes left in the game and Blue Hills would have gotten the ball. Blue Hills is known to fight to the end and either team could have won. I understand the disappointment of losing the game because of an action many people feel was just youthful excitement however shame on all those who feel that the rules should apply to only one team. There was no controversy in the call, there was no controversy in the game the kids played. The controversy is in the media and shame on those people who have inferred or stated outright that Blue Hills win was due to some ulterior motive of the officials. You diminish the accomplishments of both teams.

    1. Bryan J says:

      All anyone is saying is that there is a big difference between EARNING a win, and being GIVEN one. Blue Hills was GIVEN a win on a very questionable call. If BH can’t show some graciousness as winners, then people are right to view the results as something that was DONE FOR THEM, rather than anything they actually ACCOMPLISHED on their own. All the whining about disrespect makes Blue Hills sound like a bunch of welfare queens demanding their EBT.

  15. JOHN says:

    GRAMPS , you never answered my question if you ever saw that call made before? c’mon gramps tell me the TRUTH!!! like I said before the KIDS from CATHEDRAL got ROBBED! I REST MY CASE OLD TIMER!!!!!

  16. andyme says:

    NorthShore, the issue is not the wording of the rule, the issue is the officials interpretation and implementation of the rule, an obvious mistake on the offcials part.

  17. Denise says:

    Wow – “un-necessary celebration” …. so does this obscure rule apply to all sports or just football? Does this mean no smiling, high fiving, fist bumping etc or it will get scores and points taken away from those that play, basketball, field hockey, tennis… and lordy don’t raise those hockey sticks! Sad… conclusion and the team that was handed the win (because they didn’t WIN in my eyes) shouldn’t be proud of it… But then again maybe they are – kids aren’t taught to be proud of what they earn… because they are given so much that they don’t have to work for these days.

  18. bob says:

    “Owens was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct-excessive celebration for putting his left hand in the air.”

    I just don’t see it.

  19. JAMES says:


  20. Joe says:


    I normally agree with you on the majority of issues discussed here. However, I respectfully have to part ways with you on this one. First of all, I had no dog in the fight in this game. This is completely objective as I didn’t go to either school and don’t know anyone associated with either school.

    You and I both agreed the sexual harassment charges of the 7 year old are ridiculous. Well, this is very similar. Be it on a much smaller and less important level of course. In both cases, there is a necessary and greatly needed rule in place and in both cases common sense discretion was not used by the people enforcing said rules.

    The excessive celebration rule allows the referee discretion for each case. This kids actions clearly were not unsportsmanlike nor intended to show up his opponent. As he ran down the field he quickly looked back to see how close the defenders were. In that split second of realizing ‘holy bleep I’m going to score’ he raised his hand while clearly looking in front of him and not at his opponent. This was a split second and almost subconscious reaction of human emotion and human nature.

    Think about it. It’s the kids senior year, his last game possibly ever and in a split second he realizes he’s going to score the winning touchdown to clinch his schools first ever superbowl. And you think that with all those emotions going thru a 17 year olds head he made a conscious decision to show up and taunt the other team by rasing his arm?

    The answer is no. Of course he didn’t which is why the ref has discretion to determine if their was intent or a split second reaction of uncontrollable human emotion. What should have happened was the refs should have had a conference on the field and someone should have said, hey, that wasn’t intentional you need to pick up that flag and say there is no penalty on the play and the result is a touchdown.

    Instead of the ref realizing his own split second decision was wrong and doing the right thing he let the call stand. Which is the exact reason the rule allows for discretion. Too prevent something like this from happening. I hope they do the right thing and award the win to the team that actually won.

    1. gramps says:

      Afternoon Joe,

      I completely understand your position.

      It’s my understanding that the ‘MIAA’ has reviewed this & if the ball carrier had waited to do whatever offended the ‘Ref’ until after crossing the goal line it would have been a score….With a 15 yard assessment @ the kick off.

      The ‘MIAA’ means business….

      1. gramps says:

        We all learn @ various ages that “life ain’t fair” IMO, the earlier the better….

        Your piece talks about ‘one Lad’s emotions & possibly his last game….It’s even worse, Cathedral has 270 ‘Lass’s & Lads’, grades 7 through 12, who must live with this for ever…..Each one depending on their age has lost yet another piece of their ‘innocence’…..

        What will they take from this experience? Thats up to themselves, their parents & teachers.

        Would they have been better off right now if they had kept score @ T-BALL & learned long ago what losing felt like?


        “It’s not knowing how, it’s knowing ‘when’!…..He counted his chickens B/4 they hatched!…..Did you watch the 2nd ‘Jim Brown’ video?

  21. Dave says:

    Why say “no excessive celebration”, if you are not allowed to celebrate at all?

    The kid just won the biggest game of his life at age 17, and you are going to take that away for sticking a hand in the air for one second?

    MIAA rules should no penalize human emotion.

  22. Joe says:

    And let me be clear. If he had pointed at the defender, high stepped into the endzone, spiked the ball or did some kind of excessive stupid touchdown dance like some pros do I would agree with the call. But that isn’t what happened here and common sense discretion tells me that.

    1. Joe says:

      Heck, I would agree with the call if he kept his arm up the rest of the way into the endzone. As Dave said you can’t have excessive celebration without having acceptable celebration. What he did was acceptable. Keeping his arm up the whole way and spiking the ball in the endzone would be excessive. That’s how the rule should be interpreted.

  23. JOHN says:

    I grew up in Boston my whole life and I am a 54 yr old WHITE MALE and I cannot BELIEVE I am saying this but WAS THERE RACE INVOLVED? How many white kids on the Cathedral Team or how many black kids on Blue Hills? can somebody tell me please? I have an idea!!!!!!! I was raised in ROSLINDALE!!

    1. D. Neil says:

      Look at the pictures of the team. Really? The race card?

  24. Eli Orkin says:

    Blue Hills should act like real men, and admit they lost the game.

    1. D. Neil says:

      The Blue Hills team is a class act and if you had watched the game you would have seen that one call, good orbad, didn’t win this game for them.

      1. ctdawg56 says:

        The better team lost this game on a call by a Blue Hills alum

  25. justsayin' is all says:

    So the act of raising a single arm constitutes “unsportsmanlike behavior” during a H.S. football championship game?! Players are charged and emotional and I’m sure the kid was overjoyed, it wasn’t malicious…….we’re really get messed up in society lately. Another bizzare story like the little boy last week that was getting bullied and kicked the bully in the “sack” to defend himself. Some moron in the school suspended him and termed the act “sexual harrassment”, huh???!
    It’s just a game and this ref got it very wrong, nothing really wrong here as many young H.S. and other children emulate the actions of pro players. It wasn’t even a “Deion” shuffle into the endzone, just an upraised arm. RIDICULOUS! Referee is the real issue here, misinterpretation of the rules….jerk.

  26. mike d says:

    if you read the detail rule there was NO violation. What happen was a ref wanted to be in front of the game and at ref school someone said raising a arm was a violation. That is not what is written .

  27. sloopjohnB2 says:

    I am a HUGE fan of Blue Hills Regional and I am glad that they won the game. It’s a great school with a proud tradition. However, I am NOT happy how it happened. Cahtedral deserved better from the officials. The officials in some cases think that tTHEY are the game. People come to see them. This is the biggest game of any student-athlete’s life. This was NOT taunting. The MIAA needs to apologize to Cathedral. The penalty if there was one should have been marked off on the ensuing kick off. The MIAA can rationalize all it wants but this decision was a big mistake. Congrats to Cathedral for the sportsmanship that they have shown.

  28. andyme says:

    Gramps, you are way off, I watched the JB video and the issue really is did the player raise his hand to taunt the other team. JB was a great running back, but an unhappy frustrated man after he left football. What this kid did was not taunting the other team, the MIAA should be ashamed of themselves if they don’t at least reprimand the official. In years to come the losing school, players and students will laugh and remember how they got robbed out of championship.

  29. Mikey Cyrus says:

    I read the rule at the following link and do not see how the player violated it:

  30. Joe says:


    Here is the rule as written in the MIAA rule book. Please objectively read it and tell me which rules apply to what happened .

    RULE 9. SECTION 2. Unsportsmanlike Conduct Fouls – Unsportsmanlike Acts

    ARTICLE 1. There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct or any act that interferes with orderly game administration on the part of players, substitutes, coaches, authorized attendants or any other persons subject to the rules, before the game, during the game or between periods. Infractions for these acts by players are administered as either live-ball or dead-ball fouls depending on when they occur.

    Specifically prohibited acts and conduct include: 1. No player, substitute, coach or other person subject to the rules shall use abusive, threatening or obscene language or gestures, or engage in such acts that provoke ill will or are demeaning to an opponent, to game officials or to the image of the game, including but not limited to: (a) Pointing the finger(s), hand(s), arm(s) or ball at an opponent, or imitating the slashing of the throat. (b) Taunting, baiting or ridiculing an opponent verbally. (c) Inciting an opponent or spectators in any other way, such as simulating the firing of a weapon or placing a hand by the ear to request recognition. (d) Any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player (or players) attempts to focus attention upon himself (or themselves). (e) An unopposed ball carrier obviously altering stride as he approaches the opponent’s goal line or diving into the end zone. (f) Removal of a player’s helmet before he is in the team area (Exceptions: Team, media or injury timeouts; equipment adjustment; through play; between periods; and during a measurement for a first down). (g) Punching one’s own chest or crossing one’s arms in front of the chest while standing over a prone player. (h) Going into the stands to interact with spectators, or bowing at the waist after a good play.

    PENALTY — Live-ball fouls by players: 15 yards. Live-ball fouls by non-players and all dead-ball fouls: 15 yards from succeeding spot. Automatic first down for fouls by Team B if not in conflict with other rules. Flagrant offenders, if players or substitutes, shall be disqualified.

  31. chris campbell says:

    That was the worst call I have ever seen an offical make. He should be investigated and should never be allowed to officate another game. There was not any taunting . Give the team their championship.

  32. Joe says:

    The answer is No to all. And its not even close. And here is my opinion of the ones that might be considered close.

    D) No: The act in question was not delayed, excessive or prolonged. He was running and never missed a stride or slowed down during the 2 seconds he raised his arm.

    E) No: He never altered his stride in any way shape or form.

    F) No: Never removed helmet.

    G) No: Never punched, pointed to or crossed arms on or in front of his chest.

    Bottom line is the referees screwed up on the biggest stage possible. Yea, bleep happens and life ain’t fair. Loosing because of your own or your teams mistake blows. But that’s life and you have to live to learn.

    However, losing because of anothers mistake blows much much worse than losing because of your own “mistake” that you never actually made!

  33. Joe says:

    I’m the type of person that believes the score should be kept with a declared winner and loser at my kids 7 year old football and baseball games. I don’t see one rule on that list that was broken. Losing is one thing and everyone in life will lose at some point.

    However, loosing a once in a lifetime superbowl because of a horribly wrong discretionary call based on a discretionary rule is ridiculous. But it definatley will be considered a life lesson. A lesson that will make those players the most cynical untrusting people who realize how many morons surround them everyday.

  34. fred says:

    Have you read the rule? Put your hand to your ear and the flags will fly. What a joke-Blame the liberals you bunch of stupid woos-asses-Oh geez from kindergart­en to college we can’t have anyone’s feelings hurt. If Blue hills has any balls they will give the trophy to Boston and publicly proclaim the rule is a joke. I would be embarrasse­d to keep it.

  35. Joanne Olivieri Summiel says:

    ok really, we played blue hills last year in the playoffs, they went through all the rules before the game like they did in this game….there will be no unsportmanship allowed and they will take action…really well blue hills had to be the most unsportmanlike and dirties team we played all season…there were more late hits and penalties and unsportmanship in that playoff game and not one thing was done…so let me get this straight it is all right to hit late, hit players and kick them when the play is over but its not all right to get excited about making a touchdown a few feet early ….i think that MIAA should get their priorities straight…what kind of message are you sending…in the long run it didnt matter because our team played fair and kicked blue hills ass to go to the superbowl and again won that…we went playing fair and square and like gentlemen…GO RAMS~~ MIAA you are wrong!!!!

    1. JOHN says:

      I adree 100% That ref gotta GO as he is a piece of $#%^!!!!!!

  36. Joanne Olivieri Summiel says:

    ok, really this is so pathetic…we played blue hills last year in the playoff game to go to the superbowl…they are the dirtiest and unsportsmanlike team we played that year…they did anything they could to try to win…late hits, kicked our players before they walked away, it was discusting…yet at the begining of the game they read the rules and MIAA said all things like that would not be tolerated and players would be kick out….were they, NO…. so that is ok but celebrating a few feet ahead of the touchdown is frowned apon.. What message is that sending… The MiAA needs to get their priorities straight.. Our team played fair and like gentleman and we kicked blue hills ass and went to the superbowl and again, won there too. I feel bad for the team and honestly who would want to say they won the game because the other team celebrated to early…lame…

  37. dp says:

    what about the referee in the end zone who called it a touchdown??

  38. Jeff C says:

    The referee screwed up – absolutely. I mean c’mon now, it’s one thing as noted above what a real excessive celebration looks like, we’ve seen it with the NFL, maybe college. But this 2 second act – football is no longer football, because someone’s feeling might be hurt. We should all play video games so no one gets hurt. Oops forget that – one team loses in video games as well. Oh gee what’s left? What have we come to? Maybe ask the question to the opposing coach right after the play (if he thought it was excessive)….. maybe not, that would just cause more controversy. We definitely do not need that.

    Congratulations to all the players at Cathedral, the coaching staff, the parents and everyone else involved in having such a awesome season. You are champs in my book.

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    1. JOHN says:

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