Turning Point: Tigers take advantage of botched call with fumble-causing sack, TD

After 83-yard run was called back, State's Bryan Underwood still wondering what happened

Clemson's Vic Beasley causes a fumble during the third quarter against N.C. State at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson's Vic Beasley causes a fumble during the third quarter against N.C. State at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

For N.C. State's Bryan Underwood, the play unfolded pretty as a picture - a left-to-right jet sweep, complete with a corner-turning burst, a veer to the sideline and into open space, and then an unimpeded 83-yard romp to the goal line.

The touchdown sprint, and soon-to-be 14-13 lead, had Carter-Finley Stadium rocking.

The problem was, the sideline official had blown his whistle, signaling Underwood out of bounds, and the play dead, near midfield in front of the Wolfpack bench.

Coach Dave Doeren said it wasn't so.

Television replays from every possible angle, slowed down to step, by step, by step seemed, at first, to irrefutably agree. Another version, which was posted widely on Friday, seemed to contradict.

In any case, there was no real argument - the out-of-bounds call stood as an unreviewable play.

The Wolfpack took their 30 yards, gave back the other 53 and the points, and moved on.

But not for long.

Two plays later, on a third-and-10 play from the Clemson 48, Vic Beasley chased down quarterback Pete Thomas in a collapsing pocket and stripped away the football. Spencer Shuey pounced on the fumble. And State, still down 13-7, went back to work on defense.

After a third-down keeper by Tajh Boyd picked up a first down, the Tigers' senior quarterback found Martavis Bryant running free behind the Wolfpack secondary and delivered his own piece of perfection - a 30-yard touchdown toss that Bryant grasped securely in the end zone.

The Tigers led 20-7, smothered State's next drive with a third-down sack by Shaq Lawson, and then struck again with a Nuk Hopkins-eque touchdown grab by Bryant against man coverage of a ball lobbed into the end zone by Boyd.

Bryan Underwood is still wondering what went wrong.

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Comments » 11

TrevorT writes:

I didn't get to see the game live so I can't say for certain either way, but was it really irrefutable that he stayed in? I saw a still frame photo posted on Tiger Talk immediately after the play that seems to clearly show his foot out of bounds. Is it a fake or an optical illusion or what? Either way, it would only have given N.C. State a one point lead, just like the one they lost earlier in the game. There's really no strong argument to say the call changed the final outcome.

KerryCapps writes:

in response to TrevorT:

I didn't get to see the game live so I can't say for certain either way, but was it really irrefutable that he stayed in? I saw a still frame photo posted on Tiger Talk immediately after the play that seems to clearly show his foot out of bounds. Is it a fake or an optical illusion or what? Either way, it would only have given N.C. State a one point lead, just like the one they lost earlier in the game. There's really no strong argument to say the call changed the final outcome.

I saw the same photo you're talking about - I think it's an optical illusion having to do with the elevated position of the camera. I don't think his foot is all the way down. The replays from a better angle - directly in front of and directly behind the runner - show pretty convincingly that he never stepped out. ESPN slowed it down step by step by step. There was one step where the angle of his foot looked as if it would almost have to land on the line, but he somehow shifted the angle of his foot slightly, turning it to the inside, and missed the line. On the next stride, there is definite green space between his foot and the sideline. It was close, but after watching it repeatedly, I'm convinced it was a legit TD.

cwby writes:

in response to KerryCapps:

I saw the same photo you're talking about - I think it's an optical illusion having to do with the elevated position of the camera. I don't think his foot is all the way down. The replays from a better angle - directly in front of and directly behind the runner - show pretty convincingly that he never stepped out. ESPN slowed it down step by step by step. There was one step where the angle of his foot looked as if it would almost have to land on the line, but he somehow shifted the angle of his foot slightly, turning it to the inside, and missed the line. On the next stride, there is definite green space between his foot and the sideline. It was close, but after watching it repeatedly, I'm convinced it was a legit TD.

Kerry, I do not want to dispute your conclusions, but must point your erroneous argument concerning the camera angle. The camera was elevated, but was outside the field of play. If Underwood's foot was elevated the pic would show its position further onto the field of play, not on the boundary line. The bottom line at this point is neither of our opinions matter. I enjoy your columns and keep up the good work.

KerryCapps writes:

Thanks, and you're right cwby - it doesn't matter, and the ref had a pretty good look at it...a game of inches, for sure. It's always nice when one of those hairline calls breaks the right way...

brookesdad729 writes:

I believe it was a TD also but one thing I know for sure is it woke us up! That was too close for comfort and what I love about our team is we responded and responded big. Mentally this team has no quit in them and I love that. They're ALL IN and that hasn't happened around here for some time now! Go Tigers!

KIMOSAMI writes:

I saw the replays as well. I thought from the start it was out. Repeated showings didn't change my mind. The announcers thought differently....and unfortunately started and cemented the narrative (WHO YOU GONNA BELIEVE, ME? OR YOUR LYIN' EYES?).

A blown call is a blown call. But I saw him step on the line. The referee looking at his feet from five feet away did too.

TigerNE writes:

in response to brookesdad729:

I believe it was a TD also but one thing I know for sure is it woke us up! That was too close for comfort and what I love about our team is we responded and responded big. Mentally this team has no quit in them and I love that. They're ALL IN and that hasn't happened around here for some time now! Go Tigers!

Sorry, our D's playing in the 4Q where we allowed so many consecutive 4th down conversions was not an "all in" performance to me. I think they just backed off a little to conserve and didn't care if NCSU scored. Eating clock time may have been the motivator. But otherwise, they played with some fire.

KIMOSAMI writes:

Turning Point: Tigers take advantage of botched call with fumble-causing sack, TD

That is quite an objective headline, huh?

Where'd you get these 'journalists', AIM, Bleacher Report(snicker, snicker) rejects?

KerryCapps writes:

Just to clarify: the call was made by the line judge, who was trailing the play, and not by the field judge, who was in front of the play closest to the runner. The line judge's view was at least partially obstructed by two players, one from NC State and the other from Clemson. The field judge, who was in prime position, could have made an out-of-bounds call had he chosen. He did not. Instead he followed the runner to the end zone and signaled a touchdown.

And yes, the headline is subjective, being an analysis piece, and all...

BrandonRink writes:

My two cents... two refs were in position - one with an obstructed view (two players in front of him) and one with a very clear view...the one with an obstructed view blew the whistle. Let the play run out and review if you think it's close enough. Can't blow the whistle there. If it is indeed indisputable, the review booth turns it over.

SoCalTiger writes:

It would not have mattered if the TD had counted. Tigers would have been motivated by that and marched down the field to score again. This is a different team and would have gotten their motivation to score no matter what had happened. Go Tigers!

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