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Officiating at the end of the Male vs. Ballard playoff in Louisville



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So, if I understand what happened, on 3rd down Team A ran it down very close to, but short of, the line to gain. They then lined up for 4th down, and Team B encroached, resulting in a half the distance penalty, but not a 1st down. The linesman mistakenly told the box man to display 1st down on the box, not 4th down. Team A then ran a play into the line which was stopped for no gain, mistakenly thinking it was 1st down when, in reality, it was 4th down. Since, they were still short of the line to gain, the ball went over to Team B. The question seems to be, should/could the officials have done something to correct the fact that Team A was misled as to the correct down?

The only rule that directly addresses errors relating to downs provides:

“The referee shall correct the number of the next down prior to the ball becoming live after a new series of downs is awarded and prior to the declaration of the end of any period.”

This rule does not seem to address the situation presented here. So, what do you do if you’re the Referee here?

If I were wearing the white hat here, my thinking would be that I can’t let Team A be disadvantaged in a way that potentially impacts the outcome of the game due to an officiating error if there is any way I can avoid that result. And there is. Rule 1-1-6 is part of the “God Rule,” and provides:

“The referee has authority to rule promptly, and in the spirit of good sportsmanship, on any situation not specifically covered in the rules.”

I would then put the ball back at the 2 yd. line and replay 4th down.

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1 hour ago, jets said:

What am I missing here?? Isn't/Can't encroachment result in a first down?? 

It can but after enforcement they would have had to reach the line to gain. This was a goal to go situation so there was no way for A to get a first down on a penalty enforcement for encroachment. 

We also don't know for sure on this video if the box was at 1 before the 4th down play. If you look at the previous play the line to gain chains are lying on the ground. But when the box is shown with 1 during the discussion, the line to gain chains are now in place for Ballard's drive. They could have already switched it getting ready for the next series. It's possible it was 1 on the 4th down play, but this video doesn't prove it. The coach's argument based on lip reading was only that the ball had broke the plane. It definitely looks possible the ball was across, but if the H was on the goal line this would be an easy one to see.

If the H did tell the box to update to 1st down and the teams both assumed it was 1st down (defense is reacting like they knew it was fourth down), I agree with Bob's use of the God rule to replay the 4th down. I would need to be absolutely positive the box was 1 before the play and the coach believed that to be correct down. Tough situation for the crew and a potentially huge mistake on their part.

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