An announcement from the Atlantic Coast Conference had anything but perfect timing for the North Carolina Tar Heels.
UNC football dropped to 2-1 on Friday night when they fell to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a 24-18 final in Winston-Salem. A comeback from 21-0 down fell just short when an unusual play call ran the clock out. Facing 4th down and one with the clock dying, the Tar Heels handed the ball off to Michael Carter to keep the game going.
Carter easily got the first down, but had to race out of bounds to keep the effort alive. The junior rusher finally made it, but time had run out. Officials quickly left the field, commencing a celebration from the hometown Wake fans. The Demon Deacons (3-0) are one of four undefeated teams left in the ACC.
Further review from the conference has determined, however, that the Tar Heels deserved one more shot to complete their comeback. Members of the Tar Heels’ sideline contingent raised one finger toward officials, indicating that the clock should’ve stopped with a single second left.
It turns out they were right…but there’s a big catch.
“Following a review of the available footage provided from the television broadcast, it has been determined that one second remained when the on-field official indicated that the ball carrier’s forward progress had been stopped at the 43-yard line,” a statement obtained by Stadium’s Brett McMurphy from the ACC’s Dennis Hennigan said. “Since the on-field officials ruled that time had expired on the play, the replay official should have stopped the game for further review and put one second on the clock. Once one second was put back on the clock, the ball would have been spotted at the 43-yard line and the game clock started upon the referee’s signal. All disciplinary measures related to the replay officials are being handled internally and the ACC considers this matter closed.”
Replays on ESPN showed that Carter stepped out of bounds with one second remaining on the clock, which would have frozen game time…temporarily.
With Carter forced out of bounds at Wake’s 43-yard-line, a desperation heave for the win was certainly in the realm of possibility. But since Carter was ruled to be moving backward by the time he was out of bounds. As such, the final second would run out not after the ball was snapped, but after officials spotted the ball.
Whether UNC would’ve been able to snap the ball in time is very much in doubt.
The Tar Heels will look for redemption next weekend when they take on Appalachian State at home in Chapel Hill next Saturday.