NIU Sports

C-USA admits to officiating mistake at end of NIU bowl loss

Conference USA, which provided the officials for Friday’s Cure Bowl between NIU and Coastal Carolina, admitted on Saturday that a review was warranted at the end of the Huskies 47-41 loss.

Mounting a final drive in the closing seconds, Rocky Lombardi threw to Miles Joiner on a fourth and 1 from the CCU 8. The official went through a number of different signals before ruling the play a catch inbounds with 4 seconds left, giving NIU a first down at the 4.

As the ball was being set by the center judge, the clock started running while he was still in the way, preventing a snap. The clock also appeared to run down from 2 seconds, not 4.

In a statement released by C-USA Saturday attributed to coordinator of football officials Mike Defee, a review should have occurred.

“At the conclusion of last night’s Tailgreeter Cure Bowl, a replay review should have been warranted following a reception along the sideline with two seconds remaining,” Defee said in the statement. “With the time remaining, there was a mechanical error in how the clock was managed. The center judge should have been allowed to clear the line of scrimmage before the clock was started.”

MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher also released a statement Saturday morning referring to the end of the game as a series of errors.

“At the end of last night’s NIU vs. Coastal Carolina football game in Orlando, a series of errors by the on-field officials and the replay official denied NIU the opportunity to run one more play. Following the reception on the sideline, the play should have been stopped for a review. Also, the clock was not managed appropriately on what should have been the final play as the center judge should have been allowed to clear the center before the referee wound the clock. This should not have occurred and the egregious errors around a potential game-changing situation is both unfortunate and unacceptable.”

The loss capped a 9-5 season for the Huskies in which they won the MAC title a year after a winless season.