University of Miami

UM-Duke officials suspended after wild finish; result of game cannot be changed

AP

The Atlantic Coast Conference on Sunday suspended the officiating crew that handled — or mishandled — the wild finish to the UM-Duke game.

The on-field officials, as well as the replay official and communicator, were suspended for two games.

The league listed four errors made by the officials on the Hurricanes' eight-lateral kickoff return for a touchdown as time expired Saturday night, culminating in UM’s 30-27 win in Durham, North Carolina.

“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 in a statement. “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."

An ACC official confirmed Sunday, per NCAA rules, that the score is final and the result of the game cannot be overturned. As a matter of policy, the official said. every play and every call of every game is reviewed.

First, the ACC said the replay official missed the call of Mark Walton's knee being down before releasing the ball on one of the laterals.

"If called, this would have ended the game," the ACC's announcement said.

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Two block-in-the-back calls were also deemed to be mishandled. The ACC determined that UM should have been penalized for one on the Miami 16-yard line that would've resulted in an untimed down from the 8 if called.

The officials then also correctly picked up a flag for a block in the back on the Duke 26-yard line but did not effectively communicate that the flag was waved off without assistance from the replay official. A block in the back penalty is not reviewable.

Finally, the ACC pointed out that the on-field crew failed to penalize the Canes for a player — receiver Rashawn Scott — leaving the bench area before the end of the play.

Despite the suspension, criticism still surrounded the ACC.

ESPN college football analyst and former Ohio State running back Robert Smith took to Twitter to suggest an extreme overturn.

"The ACC should overturn the result of the game," Smith tweeted. "The knee was down with the clock expired."

The ACC's announcement made no mention of any calls prior to the final play.

Duke took a 27-24 lead with six seconds remaining when quarterback Thomas Sirk plunged one yard on a play in which it appeared he might have been stopped short of the goal line.

The final Duke drive also saw a questionable pass interference call on cornerback Corn Elder, who later scored the controversial game-winning touchdown, to set up the eventual go-ahead score.

The game was the sloppiest in UM history. The Hurricanes were penalized a school-record 23 times for 194 yards.

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