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Illegal formation missed by refs results in 'heartbreaking' loss

By Drew Haston
On November 1, 2012

The Ohio Valley Conference has released a statement regarding the no-call on the last play of the game against Tennessee State University Oct. 27.  

In the last remaining seconds of the game, Tennessee State, after being held out of the endzone the entire game, scored a touchdown by the way of a six-yard A.C. Leonard pass to Michael German.
What caused the controversy was that the officials didn't flag the Tigers for lining up in an illegal formation.
"They were in an illegal formation on the play, and the officials missed it," Watson Brown, head coach, said. "And that would have been a five yard penalty, and they get another shot, and that would have put them on the 12-yard line with another throw in the end zone."
The reason pushing TSU back would have been so significant is because it would have given Tech's defense more room to breathe.
TSU's kicker Jamin Godfrey missed a kick that would have won the game for the Tigers against Jacksonville State Oct. 20.  If the Golden Eagles could have made a third down stop after the penalty, Godfrey would have been attempting a 29-yard field goal.
"You have to line up with seven men on the line of scrimmage every play, or it's an illegal formation," Justin Matheney, student assistant coach, said.
TSU only lined up with six men on the line.
According to NCAA Approved ruling 7-1-4, "Team A's formation at the snap includes only 10 players: five players on the line of scrimmage numbered 50-79, one player on the line wearing number 82, and four players in the backfield."
In layman's terms, if there are more than four people in the backfield as well, then the formation is illegal.  Tennessee State lined up with five.
"On the last play of regulation, Tennessee State threw a touchdown pass to tie the game and then kicked the extra point to win it," Jim Jackson, OVC Coordinator of Football Officiating, said. "The offense was lined up in an illegal formation as there were five players in the offensive backfield. There should have been a foul called, a penalty of 5 yards assessed and the down should have been replayed."
Jackson is looking into the matter, but any form of punishment on the officiating crew has not been announced.
"Jim Jackson is a good man," Brown said. "I think he will take care of it. I believe in him. I don't know if people will get suspended or what they'll do from it, we'll wait and see what happens with that."
Brown also talked about how he felt for his players after the game.
"It's tough, it's tough on our kids," Brown said. "We all make mistakes. I understand that. I make them myself, but you just don't feel good for your players when you just lose the game on the last play of the game on a poor officiating call."
Tech will look to bounce back tomorrow for Homecoming against Eastern Illinois University at 1:30 p.m.
For more OVC news, visit

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