Poor camera work and a possibly inattentive official cost Eastern Washington three points in its season-opening game at Idaho on Saturday.
The Big Sky Conference official — who appears to be back judge Ben Cheffers — ruled Seth Harrison’s 24-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter hit the right upright, but he looked to be out of position and not watching the kick because he was adjusting his mask as the ball was heading toward him.
Harrison and Eagles coaches protested that the kick hit the bottom of the scoreboard above the uprights, but the call stood on video review. For a visual, here’s how close the uprights and scoreboard are to each other in that end zone at the Kibbie Dome.
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That leads to the second breakdown on this play: The replay booth couldn’t tell whether the ball hit the scoreboard or the upright because of bad live video and the lack of other camera angles of the kick.
The live shot was a field-level look from behind Eastern Washington, with the tops of the uprights cut off. There were cameras above the end zone behind the uprights, but it’s not clear whether those were a part of the Big Sky’s broadcast.
Uhhh Eastern Washington’s kicker just kicked a 22-yard field goal and something happened and the ball hit the scoreboard after going through the uprights and the refs got confused and just looked around and called it no good. Holy shit this is worse than the 5th down. pic.twitter.com/apT5r9cJlD
— Graham Coffey (@DawgOutWest) February 28, 2021
With the replay booth unable to see the ball hit the scoreboard, and without secondary video to provide confirmation, Eastern Washington was out of luck.
A field goal would have given Eastern Washington a 24-21 lead with 11 minutes to play. Idaho won the game 28-21 on a touchdown in the final minute.
The Big Sky had not commented on the call as of early Sunday.
UPDATE: The conference said in a statement Sunday night it reviewed “additional video footage” and determined the official missed the call. It also said the kick was not reviewable because the ball went higher than the top of the upright.
“The physical setup of the scoreboard and catwalk directly adjacent to the uprights in this endzone (sic) of the Kibbie Dome create unique circumstances when determining whether a kick is good,” the conference said. “In light of these circumstances, the Big Sky is evaluating the mechanics of where officials are located during a field goal or extra point attempt to be positioned better to evaluate these types of plays.”