An inadvertent whistle that handed Washington State a second fourth down attempt during the Cougars’ 38-24 victory over Arizona State on Saturday, Nov. 7, has now led to punishments for the officiating crew who irresponsibly made that call, according to the Seattle Times.
Stefanie Loh of the Times reported on Monday, Nov. 9, that the PAC-12 office has suspended line judge Rich Troyer for one game and has downgraded the rest of the officiating crew following that controversial call during the second quarter.
Down 14-3 with less than six minutes to go before halftime and facing fourth down-and-five, Cougar wide receiver Gabe Marks caught a pass inside the Sun Devil 10-yard line near the right sideline. Marks was driven back by ASU cornerback Lloyd Carrington, which prompted the line judge to half blow his whistle. Troyer’s half whistle left Marks and the other players confused and got them thinking that the play was blown dead. However, Marks and the ASU defenders snapped out of the confusion and the receiver tried gaining positive yardage up field before the play was officially called off.
Troyer reportedly indicated that he mistakenly blew his whistle. The down was replayed, meaning the Cougars now had a fifth down situation. The added bonus for WSU led to a Dom Williams 11-yard touchdown reception and a shift of momentum, as the Cougars rallied to win.
According to a PAC-12 release, the league has reviewed the play and determined that the ball should have been stopped at the point when the whistle blew “as forward progress was stopped short of the first down.” The release added: “The ball should have been turned over to Arizona State on downs. As a result, the officiating crew erred in ruling this an inadvertent whistle and not officiating the initial whistle as the end of the play.”
This is the first time in 25 years that a “fifth down” ruling was made in college football. On Oct. 6, 1990, Colorado managed to sneak in an extra play following a timeout. The chain crew failed to flip the down marker to note that it was third down when time was stopped. The Buffaloes scored the game-winning touchdown on a quarterback sneak during the fifth down scenario, beating Missouri 33-31.
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