Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow is looking forward to the conference opener at Jackson State on Saturday, but said earlier in the week he needed to find a moment or two to send in game film to the Southwestern Athletic Conference office.
There were two plays in the 24-22 loss to Jacksonville State that officials seemed to bungle and Barlow wanted to make sure he sent in the game film to conference officials so they could take a look at it.
The first play came midway through the second quarter when Malcolm Cyrus took a screen pass in the left flat from Daniel Duhart. Cyrus sped past the line of scrimmage, outran the linebackers down the sideline and was in the end zone for an apparent touchdown and a 9-0 lead, pending the extra point.
Back up the field, a penalty flag had been dropped by the line judge, who was in a heated argument with Barlow. The head coach was trying to demonstrate the move left tackle Matthew Bates had made on a defensive lineman, while the officials ruled a personal foul penalty against Bates, contending that he clubbed the defender in the head.
“There’s a technique when you’re playing the tackle position, you pass set to invite the D-end to rush up field and when he rushes up field, you just club him by you,” Barlow explained. “He hit the guy in the back and the guy (official) said he threw a punch. But that was the technique. They called that back.”
Had he thrown a punch, Bates would have, or should have, been ejected from the game. So the official blew it twice.
A quarter later, nursing a 9-7 lead, Alabama State’s Bobby Wenzig kicked off to Gabe Chambers. Chambers was separated from the ball by ASU defender Ka’ra Stewart and a mad scramble for the ball ensured. Game officials were late to the pile because none of them, apparently, noticed the fumble. By the time players on both teams were pointing to their opponents’ end zone to indicate they had the ball, officials started pulling players off the pile without indicating who had the ball. Alabama State eventually emerged with the ball but the officials never huddled and discussed the play, other to indicate that Jacksonville State maintained possession of the ball.
All of this while Jacksonville State was preparing to send its defense on the field after the apparent fumble.
“They were pulling people off to see who had the ball and when we came up with it, they still (gave it to Jacksonville State),” Barlow said. “My thing is, if they didn’t realize it was a fumble, then right off the bat they should have said it was Jacksonville State’s ball. But you can’t wait to see who’s got the ball and then we come out with it and they still point that way.”
Both plays, needless to say, were huge. The first one cost Alabama State four points (they eventually drove down on that possession and kicked a field goal) while the other could have been a huge momentum shift after the Hornets scored and got the ball back on a fumble at the Jacksonville State 25. Instead of driving in for a touchdown or settling for a Wenzig field goal, the Hornets watched as Jacksonville State drove 75 yards for a touchdown and a lead it would never relinquish.