The NFL’s “what is a catch?” question has come to high school, and in Georgia, it may well have decided a state championship.
Our scene: the Georgia Class AAA title game, where Peach County, down 10-6, was driving on Calhoun with less than four minutes remaining in the game. On a crucial throw to the end zone, Peach County receiver Noah Whittington appeared to catch the ball, lunge forward and cross the goal line before hitting the ground and losing the ball:
Down 10-6, Peach County scored a TD on 4th & 9 w/ 3 minutes left. REFS CALLED IT INCOMPLETE. Game winning touchdown w/ 3 minutes left is called INCOMPLETE by the refs.
— Cody (@CodeMan10x) December 8, 2017
You know the rule here: a receiver must, in theory, “survive the collision with the ground” by holding onto the ball when he hits. But it’s clear Whittington had enough time to catch the ball, tuck it, make a turn toward the goal line, and take three steps—which should mean that the call is a touchdown as soon as the ball crosses the plane. The referee on the scene didn’t see it that way, and soon afterward, Calhoun won.
But Peach County isn’t letting this go, and earlier this week, head coach Chad Campbell made an impassioned, 40-minute plea to the Georgia High School Association to correct “a blatant, astronomical mistake.”
Campbell is asking the GHSA to declare Peach County co-champions, or perhaps even replay those final two minutes. “We’ll go out and play on the concrete,” Campbell told the GHSA. “We think we deserve something.”
The 11-member GHSA panel listened to Campbell’s declarations, but did not announce any decision. Nor did they indicate any decision whatsoever would be forthcoming.
The fact that there was no opportunity to question the call or bring in additional help rankled Campbell. “I’ve watched it a million times,” he said. “And not for one second did they try to get this call right. … These kids deserve better than ‘it’s a bad call, move on.'”
Unfortunately for Peach County, moving on is most likely exactly what they’ll have to do.
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