4A football: UHSAA acknowledges wrong call in East win over Olympus
A missed call in the second quarter of the first Class 4A semifinal Thursday afternoon at Rice-Eccles Stadium resulted in a touchdown for the No. 1-seeded East Leopards, who went on to beat Olympus 47-21.
According to Kevin Dustin, assistant director of the Utah High School Activities Association, there was a "misapplication of the rule" following a muffed punt by Olympus, which resulted in a touchdown for the Leopards with 1 minute, 22 seconds left in the first half to give East a 21-14 lead.
The officials signaled for a touchdown when East's Avery Hopkins crawled for a loose ball and recovered the ball in the end zone from the muffed Titan punt to give the Leopards six points. But as Dustin said, the national rulebook states once the ball crosses the plane of the end zone and never clearly is possessed by either team, it should automatically be ruled a touchback and should have been Olympus' ball at the 20-yard line.
"It should have been a touchback and it was given a touchdown," Dustin said.
The difference in the play is that it was officially a muffed punt and not a fumbled punt, meaning the correct call, according to the national high school rule book, should have been a touchback.
"As soon as [the player] had possession of it, and then he loses it, then that's a different story," said Mike Petty, supervisor of officials. "It was just a muff, and as soon as it goes over the goal line, then that's dead."
Dustin said the UHSAA already has "internally" visited with the official who made the call.
An opportunity to possibly protest the outcome ended when the final horn sounded, Dustin said, adding Olympus didn't protest. Both Dustin and Petty said it's a rule nationwide that the ability to protest ends once the game ends.
"The high school rule is it should have been dead," Dustin said about the play. "It should have been dead as soon as the ball broke the plane."