Replay official knew Sooners recovered kick vs. Ducks

Updated: November 23, 2006, 4:08 PM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The replay official for the Oklahoma-Oregon football game says he knew that Oklahoma recovered a pivotal onside kickoff late in the game.

But Gordon Riese told The Oklahoman that replay rules prevented him from correcting on-field officials who made the wrong call and awarded possession to Oregon, even though it was clear to Riese that Oklahoma's Allen Patrick had recovered the ball.

Riese also said that if he had seen the correct angle of the replay, it would have been easy to reverse the result of the call and give possession to Oklahoma, which could have run out the clock. But that didn't happen, he said, and Oregon took advantage of the officiating blunder, scoring a last-minute touchdown to win 34-33.

At the center of the dispute in the Sept. 16 game was a botched call on an onside kickoff by Oregon before the Ducks' winning touchdown. Replays showed the kick was touched by an Oregon player before it traveled the required 10 yards, and, therefore, possession should have been awarded to Oklahoma.

The video also showed that Oklahoma's Patrick actually recovered the ball, although that aspect of the play was not reviewable.

"This was the easiest call to make, if I'd gotten the [correct] replay," Riese said. "It would have been the right call. It would have been the correct call. The Oregon kid touched the ball at the 44-yard line."

Riese said the only replay angle he saw on the play came from Oklahoma's end zone, which he said prevented him from making the correct call. But he did see something else.

"I saw the ball laying on the ground, the Oklahoma kid picks up the ball with his knee on the ground," he said. "I knew it was Oklahoma ball."

But, Riese said, he chose to follow the rules of the replay system, which meant he couldn't tell the on-field Pacific-10 Conference officials of their error -- even though the referee asked him which team had recovered.

"I can't let it go," he said. "It's something we officials have just been schooled with -- to get the call right -- and I didn't do it that day."

Oklahoma is 9-2, but would be 10-1 and possibly a part of the national-championship discussion if not for the officiating errors at Oregon. Riese said he's aware of the Sooners' success this season.

"Oh, they're a good football team," he said. "My goodness sakes, they're a good football team."

The Pac-10 suspended Riese for one game, and he later requested and was granted a leave of absence for the remainder of the season. He said he does not plan to return to the replay booth and that the mistake continues to bother him.

"I worry about the screwup we did in the Oklahoma game," he said. "It's inexcusable."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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