Ohio coach Frank Solich described the call that resulted in a safety against the Bobcats as ”questionable.” Buffalo coach Jeff Quinn called it ”a gift.”
And Tom McCabe, the referee who made the ruling, had a two-word answer when asked if he had an inkling he might have been wrong in awarding Buffalo two points during a 30-3 win on Tuesday night.
”Yes, correct,” McCabe said.
McCabe was at the center of a play that was shown numerous times during the nationally televised game.
Facing third-and-7 at the Ohio 27 in the third quarter, Bobcats quarterback Tyler Tettleton was flushed out of the pocket by linebackers Khalil Mack and Jarrett Franklin. Tettleton backpedalled to his own 4 before throwing the ball away.
McCabe penalized Tettleton for intentional grounding, and ruled he had thrown the ball from the end zone, resulting in a safety that put Buffalo ahead 9-3. Replays showed Tettleton never got beyond the 4 and also showed McCabe was within 2 yards of the quarterback when he released the ball.
Tettleton’s momentum eventually led him to tumble into the end zone, but it was long after he threw the ball to the sideline.
That’s where McCabe acknowledged he made a mistake. He said he was looking downfield as the quarterback threw the ball.
And when line judge Mike Maisner ruled the pass didn’t cross the line of scrimmage, McCabe said he looked down to see Tettleton in the end zone.
”I looked down and the quarterback was on the ground, 8 yards deep,” McCabe said. ”So I thought he threw the ball from the end zone.”
McCabe said the play was not reviewable because it was a spot foul.
The Bulls (7-2, 5-0) grabbed the momentum by scoring touchdowns on their next three possessions and went on to a big Mid-American Conference victory against the Bobcats (6-3, 3-2).
Solich was unhappy with the call, but noted it didn’t ultimately cost the Bobcats the game.
What bothered Solich more was the rule preventing the officials to review it.
”It’s a call that points are scored on,” Solich said. ”I believe all calls where points are scored to be reviewed, certainly if there’s a question.”
Quinn said the safety helped turn the tide in the Bulls’ favor.
”I thought it was kind of a gift,” Quinn said. ”Yeah, that probably helped us a little more.”