Football fans may not realize it but the officials usually get things right when calling games; not perfect all the time but generally correct in the calls they make, and don’t make, over the course of a game.
But occasionally there comes a call that is just plain puzzling.
One such decision came during Friday’s non-district high school football game between New Iberia Senior High and Acadiana High School at Bill Dotson Stadium in Scott.
NISH was firmly in control after building a 34-7 lead over the fourth-ranked Wreckin’ Rams early in the second half.
Facing second-and-15 at the AHS 39-yard line, Rams quarterback DeEdward Cormier dropped back to pass and threw deep where two AHS players were running routes. The ball bounced off one player and hit the ground before popping into the air, where tight end Bry’Keithan Mouton caught it.
Mouton and the NISH defenders in the area obviously knew the ball hit the ground as they all stopped running immediately.
But as AHS coach Ted Davidson glared and tried to get their attention, the officials gathered behind the line of scrimmage to discuss the play.
Yellow Jackets coach Rick Hutson said he thought maybe the refs were going to penalize New Iberia for faceguarding. My thought was a possible pass interference call. Instead, the officials informed the coaches that one official “thought the ball had bounced off a player’s foot,” Hutson said afterwards.
Instead of third-and-long and a chance for NISH to get the ball in good field position for a decisive score, the Rams were awarded a first down at the NISH 23. Two plays later Acadiana had scored the first of four second-half TDs that nearly allowed them to come back to beat New Iberia.
Officiating can be tough. Even when refs make the right call, coaches and fans often feel they missed it.
But this call was glaringly bad. NISH fans watching the live broadcast on COX4 texted people in the stadium, including NISH assistant principal Rob Schlicher, saying the refs blew the call.
That much was obvious even to those watching in person. From more than 40 yards away, it was clear the ball had hit the ground. TV replays made it even more obvious that the ball bounced off the ground and not off a player.
Hutson was glad the score wasn’t close at the time as it might have turned the game around completely. As it was, it sparked a second-half surge that NISH had to survive for a 41-34 win.
CHRIS LANDRY is the sports editor of The Daily Iberian.