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UM-Duke officiating crew suspended by ACC

By TIM REYNOLDS and JOEDY McCREARY AP Sports Writers

Miami's Corn Elder throws a lateral during a kickoff return which featured multiple laterals before Elder subsequently received the final lateral and scored to beat Duke 30-27 in an NCAA college football game, in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015.
Miami's Corn Elder throws a lateral during a kickoff return which featured multiple laterals before Elder subsequently received the final lateral and scored to beat Duke 30-27 in an NCAA college football game, in Durham, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. AP

The Atlantic Coast Conference has suspended the officiating crew that worked the Miami-Duke game for two league games for "a series of errors" on the final play.

The league announced the decision Sunday, about 13 hours after the Hurricanes threw a combined eight laterals before Corn Elder took the last one for the game-ending touchdown that beat Duke 30-27.

In a statement announcing the suspension of the on-field crew, the replay official and the communicator, Commissioner John Swofford said that final play "was not handled appropriately."

The league says the replay official was wrong in not declaring Miami's Mark Walton down before he flipped the ball, and the on-field crew should have flagged the Hurricanes for an illegal block in the back.

Here's what the ACC said:

"The errors that occurred during the last play of the game are: 

  • The replay official erred in not overturning the ruling on the field that the Miami player had released the ball prior to his knee being down. If called, this would have ended the game.
  • The on-field officials erred by failing to penalize Miami for an illegal block in the back at the Miami 16-yard line. If called, the ball would have been placed at the Miami 8-yard line and the game would have been extended for an untimed down.
  • A block in the back foul was called at the Duke 26-yard line. After the officials conferred, which is appropriate, they correctly determined that the block was from the side, which resulted in the flag being picked up. The replay official was not involved in the decision to pick up the flag; however, the referee did not effectively manage communication and properly explain why the flag was picked up.
  • In addition, the on-field crew failed to penalize a Miami player for leaving the bench area and entering the field prior to the end of the play. This foul would not have negated the touchdown because it would have been enforced as a dead ball foul."

“The quality of our officiating program is of the highest importance to the league and its schools, and the last play of the game was not handled appropriately,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “Officiating is an extraordinarily difficult job but our players, coaches, programs and fans deserve the best that can be offered. We will continue to strive to meet that standard.”

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