Christian High School QB Penalized for Praising Jesus After Touchdown

Mexico High School quarterback Dante Turo. | (Photo: Facebook)

A public high school quarterback in upstate New York was penalized for raising his right hand toward the sky to thank God after he scored a long touchdown run to put his team down by one point at a crucial moment in the game.

In the final minutes of the first half of Mexico High School's regular season finale at Vernon-Verona-Sherrill High, Mexico junior quarterback Dante Turo, a devout Christian, exploded through the middle for a 73-yard run for a touchdown that brought the Tigers within one point of tying the game going into halftime.

As Turo crossed the goal line to give him his second touchdown of the game, he pointed toward the sky for a couple seconds to give honor to God for giving him the ability to make such a play. Soon after, the referee in the end zone threw

a yellow penalty flag and gave Turo and the Tigers a 15-yard penalty, which was assessed on the following extra point attempt.

The referee claimed that Turo's gesture to God was taunting, therefore worthy of an uns

"I was just trying to give glory to God," Turo told after the game.

After being penalized 15-yards on the ensuing extra-point attempt, the Tigers felt forced to try for a long two-point conversion. The Tigers failed to reach the end zone on the conversion attempt and went into the halftime down by one point, instead of tied. As the Tigers lost by a score of 33-31, the extra 15 yards assessed on the two-point attempt after Turo's run could potentially have been the difference in the game.

"At that point, right before the half, we would have kicked to tie the game. So we had to go for two. It kind of changed the course of the game," Mexico head coach Tee Murabito said after the game. "Was that a play that cost us the game? No. But it did have an influence. That call had more impact than you see in the box score."

Murabito was flabbergasted by the call since his quarterback has consistently praised God throughout his playing career and has never been penalized for it before.

"All season long, he's been doing that," Murabito asserted. "No one ever came up to me and said he's got to stop that."

In fact, Turo, who has compiled 12 running touchdowns this season, even raised his hand to praise God earlier in that same game when he scored the first of his four touchdowns in the game on a one-yard run in the first quarter. In that instance, Turo was not penalized or told he couldn't make the gesture again.

"I do it every time I score, no matter if it's a QB sneak or a longer run," Turo insisted. "The ref said I was taunting the other team. That wasn't my intention at all."

Turo explained that he spoke to the referee prior to the start of the second half about the call and was unsatisfied with his response.

"I kind of explained to him that I wasn't trying to do anything arrogant or anything like that. I was just expressing my faith," Turo said. "He just said 'Don't do it again.' Those were his only words. Honestly, I don't think it was right. I wasn't trying to bring attention to myself."

The penalty, which Murabito said had an impact on the game, could have impacted the Tigers playoff seeding as well. Since the Tigers lost the game against Vernon-Verona-Sherrill, they lost out on having a home game for the playoffs and instead had to travel to Chittenango for the first round of the playoffs, where they were eliminated with a 34-26 loss last Friday. shared the video of the Turo's run and penalty call to an athletic director, an experienced football coach and football referee with over 15 years of experience, and they all agreed that Turo should not have been penalized.

"There is no penalty there," said the referee, who spoke anonymously. "Nothing occurred. It is not even remotely close to unsportsmanlike conduct. It is not, 'delayed, excessive or prolonged,' by any measurement and that is the standard for high school."

When asked by Fox News about whether he will continue to praise God after his touchdowns, Turo said he most definitely plans to continue the tradition.

"Without a doubt I will raise my finger," Turo assured.

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