The officiating was not at optimal levels at the end of Missouri’s 40-34 loss to Kentucky.
The Tigers were attempting to score a game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter Saturday night when a Kentucky player knocked the ball out of Missouri wide receiver J’Mon Moore’s hand as he rushed the ball back to be spotted after a short completion.
The clock was ticking as Moore ran back to the line of scrimmage. The strip cost Missouri at least 13 seconds as the Tigers weren’t able to snap the ball until there were three seconds left after the umpire took his time getting to the ball.
The SEC said Sunday that officials missed the Kentucky player knocking the ball out of Moore’s hands.
“After postgame video review and discussion with the on-field officials, it was determined the officials did not see the ball dislodged by an opposing player as the Missouri receiver attempted to return the ball directly to the official,” an SEC statement said. “Had that action been seen by the officials in real time, the clock would have been stopped at approximately 0:16 seconds and restarted on the ready for play signal.”
The play after the officiating miss was the final play of the game. Mizzou’s pass fell incomplete.
But that wasn’t the only officiating weirdness that happened in the final moments of the game. As first pointed out by SEC Country’s Pete Scantlebury, there were some officiating miscommunications before Moore’s one-yard reception.
Chains at top of screen move to imply first down, but back judge tells clock to start running before ball is even placed down. pic.twitter.com/4JaajmHcg2
— Pete Scantlebury (@PeteScantlebury) October 8, 2017
The play before that, Mizzou QB Drew Lock found RB Ish Witter for a completion with more than 30 seconds left. The play appeared about a yard short of the first down and was marked as such. But a line judge waved the clock to stop — Missouri had no timeouts and Witter was down in the middle of the field — despite marking the ball short.
That caused some confusion with the chain gang. The down and distance was reflected as 1st and 10, but you’ll see here that the markers on the bottom of the screen are aligned as they would be for 2nd and 1 instead of a first down.
Those markers are to the side of the field where Lock found Moore on a short out route. It’s reasonable to wonder if the two thought Mizzou had gotten a first down to briefly stop the clock.
They clearly didn’t. And because of the missed strip, it took over 20 seconds for Missouri to spike the ball from the time the Tigers snapped the ball for Moore’s catch.
Given the circumstances, the officiating miscues aren’t why Missouri lost the game. The odds were still stacked against the Tigers to get a game-winning score. But those bad odds would have been a whole lot better than they ended up being if the officials had been on the same page.
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