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Late flag costly to Cards

Published: Sat, December 7, 2013 @ 12:20 a.m.

RELATED: Varsity Blues: Mooney falls in D4 final; video, photo gallery




Cardinal Mooney senior Mark Handel said he thought he “made a good play.”

His coach, P.J. Fecko, went even further saying, “I think Mark made a great play.”

Clarksville Clinton-Massie coach Dan McSurley danced around the pass interference call in question before answering with, “It was a big play.”

Everyone’s interpretation of the pivotal call that went against Cardinal Mooney in the final minutes of Friday’s Division IV state championship game will be different.

The impact of the call, however, will not be disputed.

After the penalty yards were assessed, Clinton-Massie received a fresh set of downs from the Cardinals’ 10-yard line with under two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Two plays later, running back Bayle Wolf scored the last of his three rushing touchdowns to put the Falcons up 27-21 with just over a minute remaining.

“It’s tough, but it shouldn’t have come down to that,” Handel said. “It did and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

The drama unfolded with Clinton-Massie facing a fourth-and-5 from the Cardinal Mooney 20-yard-line. Falcons quarterback Hunter Fentress ran a play-action fake and lobbed a pass over the middle toward the back of the end zone.

“I saw the receiver run a post [route],” said Handel, who was defending from his cornerback position. “Obviously I thought I was in good position and thought I made a good play, but I don’t know if [the official] didn’t see the tipped ball or what.”

Handel was in one-on-one coverage with Clinton-Massie wide receiver Dylan Rose, as he was all game thanks in part to the snowy weather conditions affecting both teams’ already-limited passing attacks.

“After the tipped ball I pulled him down and I think that’s when [the official] threw the flag,” Handel said.

Handel later said that he dragged down Rose after the ball was tipped because that‘s what he was taught to do in that situation.

Fecko had a similar viewpoint of the controversial call.

“The ball was thrown high and as he was reaching for it Mark poked at it — you know they both went at it — and obviously there’s going to be contact at that point,” Fecko said. “It will be interesting to look at it on tape. I think there was some conference there between the officials whether or not [it was a penalty] and obviously they stuck with that call.”

It wasn’t the final play of the game for the Cardinals, who had 1:03 left and 79 yards to go with three timeouts.

Quarterback Jon Saadey scrambled for 22 yards on the first play of the drive before being dragged down out of bounds on the Falcons sideline — a tackle that initially drew a flag from an official.

However, unlike the previous flag that landed on the snow-covered turf at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium, this one was picked up and waved off.

“We were trying to move it down and we had some plays set in there,” Fecko said. “I thought we did a good job of gaining field position and then we were going to get that extra 15 [yards]. Not sure exactly what happened over there or why that was called off.”

Three plays later Saadey was intercepted, finishing off the Cardinals once and for all.

“I’m not the official,” Clinton-Massie coach Dan McSurley said of the pass interference call. “He saw what he saw and obviously that was a big play.”

As for the explanation Cardinal Mooney received afterward about the pass interference call, Fecko sounded less than satisfied with the answer.

“I believe it was that he was playing defense from behind,” said Fecko.


1rdl50(22 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Cardinal Mooney has an excellent football team. I will say that but to read the comments from the coach and player on there loss is kind of funny. Lets go back a couple of years Mooney versus Steubenville Big Red. Mooney was losing towards the end of the game. Than the refs took over a controversial flag here another one and gee Mooney is in field goal range with no time on the clock. Field goal splits the upright Mooney wins. Sorry that you loss but I have watched you win games with flags at appropriate times that always benefited Cardinal Mooney.

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2Irishtiger(51 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

I thought the same thing as the previous poster about the travesty of that Steubenville game. But I still felt bad for Mooney last night. I was there and it WAS NOT pass interference. I thought it was a horrible, horrible call. As for the late hit penalty, You HAVE to stay with the penalty. You can't wave a penalty of that type off. Clinton Massie was outplaying Mooney in the 2nd half, no doubt. But to be sitting there and enjoying the scene of the snow and a most outstanding quality of football exhibited by both teams, my heart goes out to Mooney. Bad call. Wrong time.

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3MitB(2 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

The Mooney defender did not at first commit the pass interference. He drew the flag when he grabbed the arm of the receiver while both were on the ground and the ball still in the air keeping the receiver from getting under the ball and possibly making the catch. Watch it again. You will see it.

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4joseph(59 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

It's legal to grab the receiver after the ball is tipped

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5lumper(301 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago


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6redeye1(5678 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

parlayhenny Why do you always have to bring in the race card in when things don't go the way you think it should. Race had nothing to do with it. If Mooney had scored more they would have won PERIOD!

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7walter_sobchak(2728 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm sure Mooney fans believe that was a bad call at the wrong time of the game whereas Clinton-Massie fans believe it was a good call at the right time. Calls are made all throughout a game that have a direct influence on the game. That is part of the game. But, don't criticize the official for doing his job at a critical time. If officials are not supposed to make tough calls like this when the game is tied, maybe the officials should just walk off the field and let the two teams have at it for the last 5 minutes. I'm sure that would solve some problems. Better yet, why not study the rules and mechanics, take the required tests, and get on the field to officiate the game.

Congrats to Cardinal Mooney on another great season. You should be proud of your performance as many teams compete but few get as far in the season as the Cards.

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8jianna62(3 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

I was at the game and all the fans were livid because the referee always had a penalty when Cardinal Mooney had any momentum. The call in question was so unfair. They took the ball away from Mooney and gave it to the other team. It's clear this referee did not want Mooney to win. I feel bad for the players who played their hearts out to get where they were. As far as I am concerned, Mooney won the state championship and it was taken away from them.

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9MitB(2 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Yes, the defender can grab the receiver after the ball was tipped, but that does not include holding when they both are on the ground and the one tries to scramble for the ball.

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