High school football player ejected after praising God in end zone

(WRIC/ABC) — What should have been a celebratory moment in the end zone of an Arizona high school’s football game has turned into controversy. Running back Pedro Banda, a senior at Dysart High School in El Mirage, Arizona, said he was ejected from the October 30 game because of unsportsmanlike conduct.

Banda told ABC News Phoenix Affiliate KNXV that after scoring the touchdown that put his team into the playoffs for the first time in more than two decades, “I put my hand up to my face mask and I pointed to the sky and I looked up for about four seconds.”

The referee then threw a flag and ejected Banda from the game. He’s now ineligible to play in the first playoff game this weekend.

Dysart High School Athletic Director Tyrus Timbrooks told ABC News that Banda was ejected from the game because the motion was his second offense that night. Timbrooks said the referee flagged Banda earlier for an aggressive argument with a player on the opposing team.

After reviewing the tape from the game the next day, Timbrooks said it was immediately clear that there shouldn’t have been a flag. He added that Banda’s praising God motion is something the football player typically does after scoring a touchdown.

Timbrooks filed an appeal with the Arizona Interscholastic Association, and plans to meet with a representative Tuesday. He said he feels “extremely confident they’ll have a resolution tomorrow,” and that Banda will be able to compete in the playoffs on Saturday, November 7.

In a statement provided to ABC News, the AIA said it expects committee members to complete the appeals process by Tuesday afternoon.

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