Bobby Hauck and UNLV looked like they were going to leave Hawaii with their second conference win after Blake Decker found Taylor Barnhill for the go-ahead touchdown with 15 seconds left. But penalties, a game clock and two completions defeated UNLV.
In the celebration following the Barnhill touchdown grab, UNLV received two penalties for players coming onto the field from the bench without a helmet. George Naufahu and Marcus Sullivan were the guilty players.
You can clearly see Sullivan leaping onto the crowd of players near the end of the gif. Plus you can see another player walk across the screen sans helmet. You can’t make out who it is, and given the camera angle, it is impossible to determine if that player is on the field.
But regardless UNLV got slapped with 25 yards of penalties, the second one was half the distance to the goal, and kicked off from their own 10 yard line.
Hawaii returned the kickoff then completed a pass to get to the UNLV 20 with five seconds remaining. The next play was an incompletion, but the game wasn’t over as one second remained on the game clock.
"The four-second deep ball down the middle was hard to take," Hauck said following the game in disbelief that the play took less than five seconds.
Let’s time it.
Football doesn’t extend the game clock like basketball does. The clock may have been at 5.9 seconds before the play. The clock may have been stopped at 0.2 seconds, but we can’t know that. The clock read 0:05, and from snap to ball hitting the ground, the play took less than five seconds.
What UNLV should be upset about is the inconsistency in flagging celebrations.
That’s after Hawaii’s game-winning touchdown. There are a lot more than two players leaving the bench without a helmet. According to the announcers, fans had come onto the field as well.
With 0:00 on the clock they thought the game was over. But Hawaii had to attempt the point after play since UNLV could conceivably score two points and tie the game 37-37.
Assuming the refs had applied a penalty for every player that left the sideline without a helmet like they did to UNLV, Hawaii would have had to snap the point after play from inside their own one yard line.
But instead of UNLV having a chance to penetrate the line of scrimmage and tie the game on the point after, Hawaii took a knee inside the UNLV five yard line. Game over.