Georgia Southern unable to get final snap off, loses to Army in controversial finish

·2-min read

The Army vs. Georgia Southern game had one of the strangest finishes you will ever see.

Army held a 28-27 lead throughout the fourth quarter and punted the ball back to Georgia Southern with less than a minute left in regulation. It took two plays — a 16-yard run and a 30-yard completion — for the Eagles to advance into field goal range.

But that was when disaster struck. Georgia Southern’s Justin Tomlin was sacked by Army’s Nolan Cockrill with about 14 seconds to go. The Eagles had no timeouts, so they were all of a sudden in scramble mode trying to spike the ball to stop the clock to give their kicker a shot.

Army’s defenders, though, were in no hurry to get up. There was a pile of bodies on the turf with Tomlin among the scrum. All the while, the clock was ticking.

By the time Georgia Southern was finally set and spiked the ball, time in regulation had expired.

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The play was reviewed, and the call on the field — that time had expired — was upheld and Army emerged with a 28-27 victory.

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Georgia Southern has a legitimate gripe about what went down. There’s a very clear argument that Army could have been flagged for a defensive delay of game.

From the the NCAA’s 2020 rules and interpretations guide:

On a running play late in the half the Team A ball carrier is tackled inbounds. Team B players are deliberately slow to “unpile” in an obvious attempt to consume time and prevent the officials from making the ball ready for play.

RULING: Team B foul for delay of game. Penalty—five yards at the succeeding spot. The game clock will start on the snap (Rule 3-4-3).

Had that rule been enforced, it’s not exactly clear how much time would have been put back on the clock. As long as it was more than one second, Georgia Southern would have been able to spike the ball to stop the clock and set up for a field goal. The Eagles also would have been five yards closer thanks to the penalty yardage.

It’s no guarantee that Georgia Southern would have connected on the kick. Alex Raynor, a freshman, had already missed a 28-yard field goal and had an extra point blocked earlier in the game. But he should have at least been given a shot. Raynor entered the game 12-of-15 on field goals, including two from 41 yards, so it would have likely been in his range.

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