The Sun Belt said it couldn’t comment when asked if it would discipline the officiating crew that lost track of the downs in Saturday’s game between Georgia State and Louisiana-Lafayette. Because it declined comment, it also wouldn’t answer if it acknowledged that at least one mistake was made.
With less than a minute remaining in the first half of what turned out to be a 34-31 loss, Georgia State had the ball on Louisiana-Lafayette’s 39-yard line. Offensive lineman Steve Wolgamott was flagged for a false start with 44 seconds left.
Georgia State coach Trent Miles had the option to either call timeout, or allow 10 seconds to be taken off the clock as the part of the punishment for the penalty.
He called a timeout, leaving with him two.
At that point, instead of the yard marker correctly saying first and 15, the down marker was switched to second down.
The next play resulted in an incompletion.
The next play was a completion to Robert Davis for 8 yards.
That set up what should have been third-and-seven at the 31-yard line. But the officials signaled it was fourth down, which forced the Panthers to successfully kick a 48-yard field goal to take a 17-14 lead.
It may not seem like a big deal, but there’s a huge difference in the Panthers having three downs, two timeouts, 44 seconds and 39 yards to go, and two downs, two timeouts, 44 seconds and 39 yards to go.
On Monday’s teleconference, Miles said, “I guess officials make mistakes also. It’s not an excuse for why we didn’t win the game.”
That wasn’t the only mistake made by the Sun Belt officiating crew. Wide receiver Donovan Harden was twice tackled by a defender who grabbed the inside of his shoulder pad and pulled him down, otherwise known as a horse-collar tackle, which is illegal. Harden was injured on one of the plays is listed as questionable for this week’s game against Arkansas State.
Lastly, with the Panthers trailing by three less than three minutes left, Miles tried to call timeout just before wide receiver Robert Davis was flagged for illegal formation. Miles recognized that Davis wasn’t on the line and can be seen on film waving his arms at the official to call timeout and stop the play. The official, who was standing right beside Miles, wouldn’t acknowledge the timeout and was the one that threw the flag. The call negated a 30-yard pass to Lynquez Blair that would have put Georgia State on Lafayette’s 42-yard line, just a few yards away from Lutz’s field-goal range.