Student athlete Sam Turner scored a touchdown on Friday night for Fort Myers High School and knelt in prayer to celebrate. Subsequently Turner was handed a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by officials.
It was his first touchdown of the season, according to the Fort Myers News Press.
Turner said he was also saying a prayer for teammate Jiatarious “JoJo” Brunson who was killed in a shooting in 2013.
“I said ‘thank you, God, for this talent you’ve blessed me with,’” and then gave an honor for Brunson, News Press reported.
Sam Sirianni Jr., the boy’s coach, said he can see the issue from both perspectives and finds no fault with either side.
“It comes down to a ref’s discretion. To them, they try to follow the letter of the rules. You accept both sides. I have seen it happen at all levels. The officials have to toe the line,” he said to the News Press. “I bet the official doesn’t feel good about throwing it, but I don’t begrudge the official. You just move on.”
Turner told News Press reporters he has received a lot of support since the incident.
“There’s been tons of support from my family and friends. They are proud of me that I stood firm in my faith,” Turner said. “It’s very cool to see how everyone is taking it,” he said. “I use my faith as a platform for my talents. My teammates are giving my tons of support. They all know I’m strong believer, even though it cost us 15 yards.”
Despite the penalty Fort Myers won the game 49 – 0.
Support for Turner, who vowed to celebrate on the sidelines from now on, has come from around the nation.
In HS my son did the same thing as Fort Myers HS Sr football playr Sam Turner. As a Christian, it blesses my heart. God Bless you young man.
— taradavis (@tarafdavis) November 4, 2014
Proud of Sam Turner for living it out! http://t.co/obEchJejxT
— Will Hutcherson (@will_hutch) November 3, 2014
— Sam McDowell (@sam__mcdowell) November 3, 2014
WRONG…ABSOLUTELY WRONG penalize this young man! Sure, there is a time and place for everything, and this was… http://t.co/NvT9W5zou1
— Lowell C. Johnson (@spectreagent) November 3, 2014
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