Over the course of a football game there will always be plenty of calls — and non-calls — that have an impact.
That’s just the nature of the beast.
Whether or not those instances have a direct or loose impact on the final result, there is no denying they play a role.
In the case of Arizona State’s 61-55 triple OT defeat to Oregon, two calls — well, one call and one non-call — stand out.
The first came with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter while the Sun Devils were leading 41-34. Facing a 1st and 10 from the Oregon 48, the home team appeared to be well on its way toward icing the game.
Feeling like he had a “free play,” ASU quarterback Mike Bercovici threw a pass downfield only to have it intercepted by Oregon’s Tyree Robinson. Now, just when it seemed like the Ducks were on the ropes, they had new life.
Did the senior QB make a mistake in trying to force the issue?
“Absolutely not,” ASU coach Todd Graham told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Friday morning. “That’s obviously what I thought (that the Oregon player was offsides) but yeah, it was an unfortunate play.”
Saying the play was unfortunate does not quite do it justice, but it was not the last time an official’s decision would leave those in Maroon and Gold scratching their heads.
Because while that interception led to the Ducks tying things up, Oregon won the game in the third overtime when Vernon Adams connected with receiver Bralon Addison for a 20-yard touchdown on second down. It was an impressive throw and great catch, though there were questions about whether or not the wideout got his foot in bounds. If not, of course, it would have been an incomplete pass.
The play was reviewed, and after taking some time to make a decision it was ruled that the call on the field of a touchdown would stand, giving the Ducks a 61-55 lead and, within a few more plays, a win.
On a night when ASU was flagged for nine penalties, it was just another case of a call not going their way.
“We had uncharacteristically a lot of penalties,” Graham said. “Obviously I can’t comment on the officiating but there’s things you can’t control. It was just tough.”
Regardless of whatever bad calls and breaks the Sun Devils may have been victims of, the loss will stand and it drops their record to 4-4 (2-3 in Pac-12).
Graham made it a point not to blame the referees or anyone else for what happened. The way he sees it, his team just did not do enough to win the game.
“The reality is we’ve lost to Texas A&M, a game where we just made too many mistakes; we lost to Oregon, the defending conference champion last night, we made too many mistakes,” he said. “What you do, you go back, you correct the mistakes, you don’t stop believing in each other.
“This program is on strong foundation and we’ve just lost some very close games, very close game to Utah. The reality is there’s nothing you can do about it. And life sometimes is like that, sometimes it ain’t fair. But our guys have character and I’m proud of what our staff and what our players and our leadership with our players — I’m proud of how they represent Arizona State. We’re about winning championships, I said that the first day I came in here, and we’re going to continue to go to work and continue to build this program.”