Pac-12 officiating crew made a mistake in the Arizona State vs. Washington State game

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Were you confused by what happened on Saturday night when Washington State got a second chance at a fourth down conversion in its 38-24 win over Arizona State because of what became known as an “inadvertent whistle?”

Well, apparently the Pac-12 was a little confused too. In a press release issued this morning, the league acknowledged that referee Mark Duddy and his crew had made a mistake, and WSU should not have gotten to to re-play fourth down.

The play in question occurred in the second quarter and involved a reception by WSU receiver Gabe Marks, who was trying to convert a fourth down close to the sideline. Marks caught the ball and was pushed backward by Arizona State’s Lloyd Carrington. Then, Marks said the line judge on the sideline “half-blew” his whistle before he had even gotten out of bounds, which confused all the players in the area and made everyone stop play for an instant before snapping out of their surprise. At that point, Marks turned back upfield and tried to get more positive yardage before the play was finally blown dead.

The line judge indicated that he’d blown his whistle inadvertently.

So referee Mark Duddy called an “inadvertent whistle,” which, by the NCAA football playing rules (4-1-2-b-1) means “the team in possession may elect to put the ball in play where declared dead or repeat the down.”

Washington State opted to repeat the down and scored a touchdown on the next play.

However, according to he Pac-12 release, the league has reviewed the play and determined that play should have been stopped at the point when the whistle blew “as forward progress was stopped short of the first down.”

“The ball should have been turned over to Arizona State on downs. As a result, the officiating crew erred in ruling this an inadvertent whistle and not officiating the initial whistle as the end of the play,” the release says.

As a result, the league has downgraded Mark Duddy’s entire crew from last night’s game, and the line judge, Rich Troyer, has been suspended from his next game.

When contacted Sunday morning, WSU declined to comment on the Pac-12’s acknowledgement that it made the wrong call.

The “fifth down,” as Marks’ do-over is starting to become known, was a huge momentum shifter in the game because the Cougars, who trailed 14-3 at that point, scored on Dom Williams’ touchdown reception on the very next play, and from that point on, seemed to snap out of their early-game funk.

WSU ultimately won by two touchdowns and the Cougars clinched their sixth win to become bowl eligible.

If you missed that play last night, take a look at it again here:

Gabe Marks described what he saw on that play to reporters after last night’s game.

Now, some links:

— Here’s our recap of how WSU clinched its sixth win. The “fifth down” call played a big part.

— Mike Leach isn’t the sort of guy who lets sleeping dogs lie. He couldn’t resist a jab at the Sun Devils in reference to their signal-stealing controversy after the Cougars’ 38-24 win.

— Matt Calkins says the Cougs are the best football team in the Pacific Northwest. Take that, Seahawks!

— After last night’s win, the Cougars got 20 votes in the Amway Coaches Poll, bumping them seven spots to No. 30.

— Jacob Thorpe had this game recap for the Spokesman-Review.

— Thorpe also says the extra down was a “just reward” for the Cougs

— Spokesman-Review columnist John Blanchette “inadvertently” wrote about the Cougs’ toughness

— Here’s the Arizona State view of the game, Doug Haller writes for the Arizona Republic

— Haller also wrote that the Sun Devils came out on the wrong side of a wrong call for the second week in a row.

— Brian Floyd from CougCenter.com points out how there was no letdown from the Cougs last night, just a “dominant comeback.”