COLUMBIA, SC - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Kriss Proctor #2 of Navy Midshipmen rushes for a touchdown against the South Carolina Gamecocks September 17, 2011 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Air Force defeated Navy on Saturday 35-34, but the way the game was won has caused some controversy. Navy came back after being down 21-3 to force overtime and then scored a touchdown on their first overtime possession. However, there was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor which pushed the extra point back an additional 15 yards which Air Force blocked and then went on to score on their following possession to win.
Here is what Proctor had to say about the penalty:
"I got up and I was trying to run to our sideline," Proctor said. "Some guy got in my way and I just told him to move explicitly and he called it. It's unfortunate that the refs made a call like that, but it's football. That's the way it is. If we make that PAT, we wouldn't be talking about it."
Proctor is correct, had they made the kick they would not be talking about this missed kick. It was not as if the penalty made the extra point extremely difficult, because instead of a 17 yard kick it was pushed back to a still manageable 32 yard kick attempt.
"This is an emotional game," fullback Alexander Teich said. "These guys know that coming in as a ref. You're reffing on CBS the Navy-Air Force game. There's no more emotion, you can't get any more psyched up about a game like that. You score a touchdown like that at the end, we'd fought back and worked so hard, it's disappointing. It's pitiful, really, it's pitiful. I'm just so upset about that."
That penalty probably should not have been called as it is something that I can see happening on a lot of touchdowns or big plays, and since unsportsmanlike conduct penalties are a judgement call so it is up to each referee's discretion.
This call reminds me a lot of a game where BYU defeated Washington 28-27 back in 2008 over a similar call. Washington quarterback Jake Locker tossed the ball up fairly high after scoring a touchdown which would force overtime once the extra point was made. However, there was an unsportsmanlike conduct call which pushed the extra point back 15 yards and BYU blocked the kick to win the game.
It is a tough way to lose a game since this matchup was a great game and to be decided on a judgement call makes the win seem a little cheap.