The most interesting guy on the TCF Bank Stadium field this Saturday, a senior team leader who was carried off the field last weekend during a victory, won’t be a guy. That player will be April Goss, who became the second woman to score in major college football when she kicked an extra point Saturday in Kent State’s 45-13 victory over Delaware State.
Goss and Kent State are the opponent Saturday for the Gophers. If Minnesota lives up to its status as a 24-point favorite, the Golden Flashes might need another Goss kick to have a reason to celebrate.
“We were just all proud of her and excited for her that she got her opportunity,” Kent State safety Nate Holley said last Saturday.
Goss took her stance and gave a nod, the snap came back clean, hold down, her right leg came through and the kick, a bit of a wobbler, surely not as pretty as she would have hoped, flipped over the crossbar. And then: Goss’s teammates mobbed her, almost knocking her over, and then they picked her up and carried her off, celebrating the otherwise meaningless second-quarter kick as if it was a game-winner. Why? Because, as stories from Ohio and nationally this week spelled out, Goss has been an important teammate in her five years with the program, offering encouragement, advice and leadership to her fellow Golden Flashes.
"It really hasn't sunk in yet, but I know it was not a perfect clean hit,'' Goss told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer this week. "It wasn't perfect like I wanted it, but I am still trying to enjoy it."
A dozen years have passed since Katie Hnida kicked two extra points for New Mexico. Goss’ boot Saturday made it a two-woman club.
“There’s a lot of hard work that has gone into this with her,” Kent State coach Paul Haynes said earlier this week. “I know she was a nervous wreck. I prepared her before we kicked. I had somebody go over to her and tell her, ‘Hey, if we score again, you’re going to kick.’ I didn’t want to surprise her like crazy and just call her name.”
Haynes lived up to his promise, telling the L.A. Times on Sept. 5: “"Before this year's out, she'll get out there. I promise you that.”
"She works her tail off,” he added. “She's the first one out there in practice and the last one off the field.”
Goss isn’t listed as one of the Golden Flashes’ top two kickers, but she’ll be making the trip to Minneapolis. Look for her in your program Saturday: No. 91, 5-6, 134 pounds, fifth-year senior. Who knows if we’ll see her kick in Minneapolis, but teammates and coaches said she could hit a field goal from as far as 35 yards.
Goss wouldn’t tell the Plain-Dealer how far out her confidence stretched. "I just have to be ready,” she said, “if that opportunity did ever come along.”