The Memphis Tigers lost their top 25 ranking after suffering their first loss of the season to the Temple Owls. Following the loss, the Owls moved to #25 in the coach's poll. The 30-28 heartbreaking loss came after 4 turnovers and being down 14-23 at the half. The Tigers defense allowed 456 yards and offense had 3 fumbles and 1 interception.
Following the Tigers rocky start, they were able to enter the second half strong despite starting down 16-0. In spite of the 4 turnovers the Tigers had, the fate of the game came down to the last 5 minutes on the clock. At 5:20 left on the clock, the Memphis Tigers regained possession of the ball only down by 2. The Tigers found themselves in a must convert situation on the 43-yard line in Owl territory facing 4th & 9. With not being in field goal range, the Tigers were forced to go for it. QB Brady White threw a hail Mary in what seemed to be the direction of no one. Much to everyone’s surprise, Tight end Joey Maginfico, “caught” the ball on the 30-yard line, giving the Tigers a necessary 1st down.
Officials ruled catch on the field. The commentators agreed, it appeared to be a catch on the field. However, because of Magnifico hitting the ground and the movement of the ball, the officials reviewed the play. The ruling on the field was overturned.
To see the catch, skip to 3:20
Since the conclusion of the game, the call has been incredibly controversial for the American Athletic Conference. The AAC stands by their referees stating:
“This falls in one with a judgment call and we would not make the replay available for that by the conference policy. The ruling was that the Memphis player didn’t have control of the ball as it hit the ground and there was enough video evidence to confirm it.”
The statement came in spite of the rule from the NCAA Football Rules and Regulations Article 3 that states :
“If a player has control of the ball, a slight movement of the ball, even if it touches the ground, will not be considered a loss of possession; he must lose control of the ball in order for it to be loss of possession.”
Along with this, rule 11 states :
“To reverse an on-field ruling, the replay official must be convinced beyond all doubt by indisputable video evidence through one or more video replays provided to the monitor."
Head Coach Mike Norvell also believed the initial ruling on the field was the correct ruling.
“I thought he laid out, thought he had his arms underneath it. I know there was movement within the ball but it’s a pretty big jumbotron”, Norvell said,” They did call it a catch on the field, I guess they had a mire conclusive angle to decide that it needed to be overturned.”
Despite the frustration and controversy behind this call, the Tigers still struggled against the Owls and with 4 turnovers throughout the game. Had the Tigers not had a sloppy start, the hail Mary may have not been necessary to save them from their first loss of the season.
“There are about 35 plays that could have changed the outcome of that game. There were probably five play calls that I would like to have back. It's about execution. Everybody was involved.”
The Tigers have a new chance for redemption next at the Liberty Bowl against Tulane. The last time the two met, the Tigers were upset by the Green Wave 40-24. They take their shot at redemption on October 19 at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN2.