After further review, North Carolina should have had the chance to run one more play at the end of Friday’s 24-18 loss at Wake Forest.
The problem is, the officials on the field didn’t stick around long enough for the play to be reviewed when it would have made a difference.
Instead, ACC coordinator of officials Dennis Hannigan had to issue a statement Saturday confirming that referee Jeff Heaser and his crew erred when they ruled the game over after UNC running back Michael Carter stepped out of bounds with time still left on the clock.
“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 ballcarrier’s forward progress had been stopped at the 43-yard-line,” Hannigan said in the statement. “Since the on-field officials ruled that tine 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 the matter closed.”
UNC would still have had to get a snap off before the clock ran out and then completed a Hail Mary pass to pull the game out. But at least the Tar Heels should have had the opportunity.
The controversial final play came on a fourth-and-one situation one play after UNC quarterback completed a pass to himself off a deflection and failed to get a first down that would have stopped the clock. Even without any timeouts remaining, the Tar Heels tried to run the ball and get the first down.
Carter succeeded at that, but in his effort to gain extra yardage, he waited too long to get out of bounds. Or so it seemed.
“I thought I got out of bounds, but I’m not trippin’,” Carter said. “I hate it and I feel bad.
“I kind of slowed down to try and set the blocks up. If I’d have run straight out of bounds, we probably would have had three seconds left. But I thought it was going to be the last play of the game. That was a mental error by me.”
Wake Forest safety Nassir Greer couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Carter cut upfield instead of out of bounds.
“I was kind of shocked that they ran the ball,” Greer said. “I was just yelling at the guys, ‘Keep him in bounds, keep him in bounds.’ It was close, but the ref went that the game was over and we were excited.”
According to Carter, the Deacons running onto the field to celebrate may have played a role in the officials’ decision not to review the call.
“I know how college football works,” Carter said. “If a team storms the field, the game is usually over. They’re not going to get everybody off the field.”