It doesn’t change the outcome, but the Colonial Athletic Association acknowledged a “game administration error” by the officiating crew in the final confusing seconds of William and Mary’s 21-18 loss to Stony Brook Saturday night.
On a play that began with 36 seconds remaining, W&M tight end Tyler Klaus caught a pass at the Seawolves’ 36-yard line. Stony Brook’s Augie Contressa hit Klaus while he was down and was called for a dead ball personal foul. (He was misidentified as Elijah Duff.)
That moved the ball to the Stony Brook 21-yard line with 29 seconds remaining. But as quarterback Tommy McKee was awaiting the snap, the officials stopped play.
After a booth review that lasted 2 1/2 minutes, referee Mike Sechrist announced a targeting call on the Seawolves’ Chris Cooper, who hit McKee in the chin with his helmet.
Cooper was ejected, and play resumed with a first down at the 21-yard line. But what the officials should have done, according to the CAA office, was enforce both penalties. That would have given the Tribe a first down just outside Stony Brook’s 10-yard line with 29 seconds left.
W&M coach Jimmye Laycock said he tried to make that argument to the crew
“I said something to one of the officials, and he obviously didn’t agree with me,” Laycock said Monday afternoon. “At that point in time, I didn’t have time to do a whole lot of other stuff. I had to get ready for the end of the game.”
Brian Gordon, an associate commissioner with the CAA who oversees football, was at the game Saturday night.
With the ball at the 21, McKee threw incomplete to the end zone, taking six seconds off the clock. With no timeouts remaining, W&M then called a running play that gained 4 yards.
The Tribe scrambled back to the line of scrimmage in an attempt to clock the ball. As McKee did so with eight seconds left, right guard Graydon Campbell moved early.
That resulted in a false start penalty, which by rule led to a 10-second runoff to end the game.
With a shorter field, W&M probably would have had more time to get set before McKee spiked the ball. A field goal from there would have been only 27 yards, as opposed to 38.
“Big, big difference,” Laycock said, comparing the 10-yard line to the 21 in that situation. “Big difference. Yeah, it was a very, very big play.”
According to the CAA, any disciplinary actions taken against the officiating crew “will be handled internally by the conference office.”
Either way, the final score remains the same. And the Tribe (2-2, 0-1 CAA) has no choice but to press on — starting Saturday afternoon at Elon (4-1, 2-0).
Since a loss at FBS member Toledo to start the season, the Phoenix — ranked 18th in the STATS poll and 23rd in the coaches poll — has won four consecutive games. The last three have come against teams ranked in the top 25.
“They’re finding ways to win,” Laycock said. “They won a shootout against Richmond 36-33, a wide-open game. Then they win 6-0 last weekend (against Albany). Two different type of games, but the overriding thing is they’re finding ways to win.
“They’re playing with a lot of confidence. And going down there, we’ve got to regroup. We can’t go down there feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve got to go in there and play a lot better.”
After totaling 162 yards from scrimmage, true freshman tailback Nate Evans was named the CAA’s Rookie of the Week. …
William and Mary is one of nine teams nationally that has not lost a fumble this season. …
W&M’s offensive line welcomed the return of left tackle Chris Durant and center Nick Wimmer against Stony Brook. Laycock said both were sore afterward but “I think they’ll be OK this week.”
Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveJohnsonDP.