Australian punter Blake O’Neill has copped death threats and stinging abuse on social media after his fumble on the last play of a US college gridiron game led to defeat.
In a derby game televised nationally, the University of Michigan were ahead 23-21 with 10 seconds to play with O’Neill ready to punt the ball away to Michigan State.
However, the Melbourne-born former Aussie rules player dropped the long snap and Jalen Watts-Jackson scooped up the ball and returned it 38 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
O’Neill then faced a barrage of abuse on Twitter which ranged from death threats to those wanting him to quit the team.
“Most hated man in the world right now @blakewoneill,” tweeted @Jaylen_02.
“@blakewoneill quit the team,” said @anthonytavano18.
“@blakewoneill What were you thinking dude. Might go down as the worst play in College Football History,” posted @TheRealCamSand.
O’Neill also received support from fans.
“I’m still sick to my stomach for that punter…Blake O’Neill wasn’t trying to fail…hoping people have a bit of compassion for him,” tweeted college football TV analyst Joel Klatt.
“Hate tweets sent to Blake O’Neill are a disgrace. Ignore them Blake! @blakewoneill True M fans know you are a star. Mistakes happen.@GoBlue,” posted @genebsperling.
It was a case of hero to villain for the young Aussie, who had earlier pulled off a massive 80-yard punt.