The Chain Call


The Boise State/Fresno State game last Friday night ended on a controversial last call by the referees.

With 18 seconds remaining on the clock, Boise State Bronco running back, Alexander Mattison, on a third and one was stopped near a first down. A timeout was called and then a measurement was taken.

Would the Broncos face fourth and a flea’s whisker or would it be a first down and game over?

No matter how you look at it from the screen grabs, it seems the football is an inch from the stake. In other words, a Bronco fourth down.

However, the referees called a first down.


No matter, you want a game to end clean and clear of controversy. Otherwise, it is as if there is a mental asterisk stamped on the win.

One source said the last link in the chain is officially the ten-yard marker and not the stick. Frankly, I’ve never heard of that one. It was probably authored by a BSU fan.
There is also the angle argument. At first, that sounds like desperation.

Okay, Let’s Say It’s Fourth Down

For the sake of dragging out this argument, let’s say it is fourth down. When does the clock start? If it starts at the signal of the referee, game over anyway. Everybody just stands around and waits 18 seconds. That would be the case if the timeout was called for the purpose of the measurement. And it was not ruled a first down.

Let’s say the clock starts at the snap. Boise State runs the ball. They make it or don’t. If they don’t, There are about 10 seconds for Fresno to score.

If Boise punts, Fresno has a chance to run it back or two plays to go 80 or 90 yards.

However, if it’s a called timeout by one of the teams, the clock starts on the snap. If it is a measurement and called timeout simultaneously, the clock starts on the snap.

It appears Boise called a timeout and when that timeout was up the referees decided either on their own or from the booth to have a timeout for a measurement.

Everyone Has Their Angle

If watching from the TV screen, we all assume the camera is taking its shot straight at the yard marker or stick. We don’t know where the camera was positioned. The only angle that counts is the referees’ and they made the call.

When looking at the replay video the stick is positioned straight up and then tilted away from the ball and that is the permanent screen grab everybody is seeing. However, when the stick is first placed, it appears straight up and down and clearly shows the nose of the football behind the stick.

In an after game interview, Fresno head coach, Jeff Tedford, said it looked like a first down to him. If anyone was going to whine, it would be him.

Thanks, Coach Tedford, No asterisk.


About Kenton Lewis

Kenton lives in Boise. He is the former publisher of the Boise State sports site, Smurf Turf; writing exclusively about Broncos football and basketball. He is also a novelist and short story writer.

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