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Hail Mary Lateral Pass Play By Central Michigan Beats OSU After Officials Mistake

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Oklahoma State's football team had apparently beaten Central Michigan 27-24, but a penalty on what appeared to be the final play gave the Chippewas a final chance, and Central Michigan scored on a miraculous hail mary play with a lateral on an untimed down.

The touchdown pass gave Central Michigan a 30-27 victory.

OSU led 27-24 and faced a fourth down with just four seconds to play.

Mason Rudolph dropped back to pass and threw deep out of bounds as time expired, apparently giving the Cowboys the win.

A penalty flag was thrown, however as Rudolph was called for intentional grounding, which is a loss of down penalty, giving Central Michigan the ball for one untimed down.

The Chippewas got the ball at their own 49-yard line, and Cooper Rush threw deep to Jesse Kroll, who caught the ball at the OSU 9-yard line, as he was being tackled and falling down, lateraled to Corey Willis, who cut back left across the field and dived across the goal line for the touchdown and the improbable, incredible finish.

After the game it was revealed that by rule, the untimed down should have been played following the intentional grounding, and the game should have ended on the incomplete pass by Rudolph.

The rule states that on a loss of down penalty at the end of a period, there is no untimed down.

The following is the transcript of a pool reporter interview with referee Tim O'Dey after the game:

Q: On the extension of the game – we’ve always heard that the game can’t end on a defensive penalty. What’s the rule that extends the game on an offensive penalty?
A: There’s a rule that says that the game cannot end on an accepted live ball foul. That’s the rule. There’s an exception to the rule that says if enforcement of the foul involves a loss of down, then that brings the game to an end. So in that situation, we’ve had the opportunity to run it back through our hierarchy, which includes the national rules editor, and he confirmed that should have been a loss of down and the end of the game at that point, so that extension should not have happened.

Q: So it’s not the offense or defense – it’s the loss of down?
A: The accepted live ball foul will extend any period, unless there is an exception that applies to that rule, and there’s an exception which applies to a loss of down foul, which intentional grounding is a loss of down foul. If the penalty statement includes the statement ‘loss of down’ then the game ends on that play.

Q: It was a loss of down. I think you announced it as a loss of down, even.
A: (no verbal answer, but nods head yes)

Q: Okay.

Q: So what you’re saying is that the game should have ended and it should not have been Central Michigan’s ball, just to be clear.
A: That is the interpretation from the rules editor – the national rules editor, yes.

Q: Who is the national rules editor?
A: Rogers Redding.

Q: What’s the next step?
A: I’m not at liberty to make any further statement as far as that. That falls outside of my jurisdiction.

After the game, the Mid-American Conference released a statement regarding the untimed down:

“The Mid-American Conference officiating crew from Saturday afternoon’s Central Michigan at Oklahoma State contest made an error on the final play of regulation. The crew made a misapplication of the rule and should not have extended the contest with one final play. Despite the error, this will not change the outcome of the contest.” Bill Carollo, Coordinator of Football Officials, Collegiate Officiating Consortium

Rule 3, Section 2, Article 3.a.1
Periods, Time Factors & Substitutions
Exception: The period is not extended if the foul is by the team in possession and the statement of the penalty includes loss of down.

According to Rogers Redding, Secretary-Rules Editor, NCAA Football Rules Committee
“The NCAA playing rules do not allow extension of the period when the penalty includes loss of down, under Rule 3-2-3. Intentional grounding of a forward pass during a down in which time in the quarter expires is such a play, because loss of down is part of the penalty. Thus the quarter should not have been extended.”

The final two plays in regulation:
With 0:04 left in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma State held possession on a 4th and 13 play from the Central Michigan 41-yard line. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph’s pass downfield was incomplete. An intentional grounding penalty was assessed and the ball was moved to the Central Michigan 49-yard line and Central Michigan was given possession with no time left in regulation. On the game’s final play, Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush completed a pass to Jesse Kroll for 42 yards, who then lateralled to Corey Willis, for the 9 yards and a touchdown for a 30-27 final.

“As in all games involving the Mid-American Conference, every play within every game is thoroughly reviewed and graded on its accuracy and has impact on the evaluation for every official,” said Bill Carollo.

A couple hours after the game, the Big 12's coordinator of officials released the statement regarding the untimed down given to Central Michigan:

“NCAA Rules permit instant replay to correct egregious errors, including those involving the game clock (FR 12.3.7). Walt Anderson, Coordinator of Football Officials, acknowledges that the Big 12 replay crew missed an opportunity to stop the game to inform the MAC officiating crew of the misapplication of the intentional grounding penalty as time expired that resulted in the untimed down leading to Central Michigan’s game-winning touchdown in its 30-27 victory over Oklahoma State. Also by Rule 1.1.3.b the result of the game is final and cannot be overturned.”

OSU athletics director Mike Holder issued a statement several hours after the game as well:

“We contacted everyone that could help us understand the situation and do something to change the outcome.  We were told there was nothing that could be done about the officials error at the end of the game and the result is final.  In my mind, it is incomprehensible that a mistake made after time had expired cannot be corrected.  The final score shows that Oklahoma State lost the game but that doesn’t mean that I have to agree with it.”   


Neither team could move the ball much on their first two possessions, then OSU got things going on their third possession of the day, as Jalen McCleskey caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Mason Rudolph to put the Cowboys up 7-0 with 4:49 to play in the first quarter.

McCleskey caught 11 passes for 103 yards for the game.

After quickly forcing a Chippewa punt, OSU struck quickly again, going 63 yards in 4 plays in just 47 seconds on a drive to extend the lead, with Rudolph passing to Zac Veatch for an 18-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.

Rudolph was 27 of 44 passing for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns.

OSU's defense has been stubborn, not allowing Central Michigan a third down conversion until late in the first quarter.

Central Michigan got a drive going late in the first quarter and finished it in the second quarter.

On third and 20, Cooper Rush rolled right and found Tyler Conklin for a 24-yard touchdown, capping an 11-play, 79-yard drive to cut the OSU lead to 14-7 with 12:13 to play in the second quarter.

OSU responded with a field goal.

After their drive bogged down, the Cowboys used redshirt freshman kicker Matt Ammendola, who kicked a 53-yard field goal to extend the Cowboys' lead to 17-7 with 9:25 to play in the first half.

Central Michigan threatened to respond with a touchdown, but a fumble on 3rd down near the OSU goal line forced the Chippewas to settle for a 29-yard field goal from Brian Eavey to cut the Cowboys' lead to 17-10 with 4:08 to play in the first half.

The score stayed that way until late in the third quarter, when Central Michigan tied it up.

Rush found Conklin again, who made a bobbling catch in the corner of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown to tie it at 17 with 5:16 to play in the third quarter.

Conklin had 7 catches for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Oklahoma State regained the lead on the next possession.

A 28-yard completion from Rudolph to Jalen McCleskey set up a 35-yard field goal by Ben Grogan to put OSU back on top 20-17 with 2:58 to play in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Chippewas used back-to-back big offensive plays, going 95 yards on a drive to take their first lead.

On 3rd and 13 from their own 28, Central Michigan picked up 41 yards when Rush found Mark Chapman down the middle for a big pass completion.

On the next play, Rush went deep again, this time to running back Devon Spalding for a 31-yard touchdown, putting the Chippewas up 24-20 with 9:40 to play in the fourth quarter.

Rush threw for 361 yards on 30 of 42 passing, for 4 touchdowns.

Oklahoma State was driving to try to take the lead, but on 1st and goal from the CMU 5-yard line, Rudolph was intercepted in the end zone by Josh Cox for a touchback with a six and a half minutes to play.

The Cowboys' defense got the ball right back on the next play, as Devante Averette recovered a Chippewas fumble at the CMU 11-yard line.

OSU capitalized  on 4th and 1 from the Chippewas' 2-yard line, with Dillon Stoner taking the direct shotgun snap, and touch passing to James Washington on the end around, who scored to give OSU the 27-24 lead with 5:12 to play in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys' defense got the ball back a few plays later, as Ramon Richards intercepted Rush at the OSU 45-yard line with 3:10 to play.

OSU appeared to be on their way to running out the clock until the late game chaos ensued.

The Cowboys had their streak of 15 straight non-conference home game wins come to an end.

The streak dated back to 2009.

OSU drops to 1-1 on the season.

Oklahoma State hosts Pittsburgh next Saturday, September 17, at 2:30 in Stillwater.

Update: OSU head coach Mike Gundy released a statement Sunday regarding the final two plays of Saturday's loss to Central Michigan.

“I’m disappointed in myself that I called a play that could have been interpreted as intentional grounding. That play has been in our playbook for 12 years now and intentional grounding and an untimed down after the last play of the game never even crossed my mind. Of course in hindsight, I wish I would have done it differently, but in the big picture, the game should have been over. While I’m disappointed in myself, I am also disappointed that we had 10 rules officials who didn’t properly apply the rule. I give credit to Central Michigan for coming up with a great play and executing it as well as they did.
My reason for reaching out to you with this statement is this – we have another game on Saturday and letting the end of the Central Michigan game linger into this week would not help our team in any way. I want this to be our final official comment on the end of the Central Michigan game, so we can close the book on it and move forward to Pittsburgh. In our program, we talk all the time about controlling the things we can control and not getting caught up in the things we can’t control. We can control how we focus on and prepare for Pittsburgh. We can’t control the decisions that were made Saturday, so I do not believe it benefits our coaches or players to dwell on them and re-hash them beyond what we already did during post-game interviews, the comments that our athletic director made yesterday and now with this statement from me today.”