Saturday’s college football game between North Alabama and Jacksonville State will be played in only one direction. Both schools, when on offense, will be trying to score on the same end zone.
The game will be held in Madison, Alabama, just west of Huntsville at a minor league baseball stadium. Toyota Field, which is home to Los Angeles Angels Double-A affiliate, the Rocket City Trash Pandas, will host the FCS matchup on Saturday.
A crowd of about 10,000 people is expected to attend, which would shatter the two-year-old stadium’s attendance record. To help accommodate the additional fans, Bleachers were installed on the field earlier this week.
And the lines were painted on the field on Wednesday.
Although the full 100-yard gridiron fits within the confines of the baseball field, only one end zone is safe for play.
Every single offensive drive between Jacksonville State and North Alabama football will be played in the same direction.
Every. Single. One.
“Due to required safety protocols for the field layout, all offensive drives will be played in one direction towards the first base dugout,” states the Trash Pandas website. That means that every time either team is on offense, they will both be driving in the same direction toward the dugout.
Pick-sixes, scoop-and-scores, and kick returns can be scored in the far end zone. Everything else — all offensive drives — will go in the same direction. All offensive touchdowns will be scored in front of the first base dugout.
For example, let’s say that North Alabama punts the ball from the 50-yard-line in left field, just beyond the infield dirt. Jacksonville State can return the punt back toward left field, but as soon as the ball-carrier is tackled, the field will flip.
So let’s say the Gamecocks return the punt to the 20-yard-line at the pitcher’s mound. Once the play is blown dead, the game will pause to turn things around.
Rather than starting its drive at the pitcher’s mound and trying to score at the outfield wall, Jacksonville State will start the drive at the 20-yard-line in left field and try to score at the dugout.
It is not the first time that this has happened. The same rules were in place for Northwestern’s game against Illinois at Wrigley Field in 2010. Something about the configuration of baseball fields.
While it makes for an unusual set-up, the game is being played and it doesn’t really change all too much. It’s just unfortunate for fans in the left field bleachers who won’t see a touchdown scored in front of them unless it’s on defense or special teams.