Officials acknowledge late play should have been touchback

Updated: December 22, 2007, 1:24 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The officiating crew from the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl has acknowledged an error in a fourth-quarter call that affected Navy's chances to beat Utah.

The crew and replay official, all from the Mid-American Conference, issued a statement after the game that a fourth-quarter play at the goal line should have been ruled a touchback and Navy ball at the 20-yard-line, rather than Utah ball at the 1-yard-line.

After turning the ball over on downs, Utah scored on its next possession to go ahead 35-25 and held off Navy's late comeback to defeat the Midshipmen, 35-32, on Thursday night.

On third and goal from the 4-yard line, Utah wide receiver Jereme Brooks caught a pass from Brian Johnson. As he extended the ball toward the goal line, he was hit by Navy cornerback Ketric Buffin. The ball fell forward and hit the pylon.

Initially, the referee ruled that the ball belonged to Utah at the 1-yard line. Navy called for a review, but the review official confirmed the call on the field.

After the game, the crew admitted it was the wrong call.

"The ball was fumbled forward and hit the pylon. The pylon is out of bounds and also in the end zone," read an official statement from the officiating crew, citing Rule 8, Section 6, Article 1, Item 1 in the NCAA college football rule book. "There was a mistake made. It should have been ruled a touchback and the ball should have been placed at the 20-yard line."

Navy took over on downs, but then gave the ball back to Utah on downs, and the Utes scored on a one-yard run by Darrell Mack on for a 35-25 lead with 1:27 to play.

Navy scored on the ensuing possession and recovered an onside kick, but the Middies' drive for a tying or winning score was ended by an interception.

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