FROM STANFORD — This was expected, that Washington receiver Kevin Smith would stand outside the visiting locker room and insist that he caught the ball.
But it is worth reporting that in the opinion of the 5-foot-11 senior, UW’s final pass of the game was not incomplete, as it was ruled by the replay official after a lengthy review inside the final 80 seconds of No. 15 Washington’s 31-28 loss to No. 5 Stanford.
On 4th-and-10, UW quarterback Keith Price danced around a number of defenders, freed himself outside the pocket toward the right sideline, and fired a pass toward Smith beyond the first-down marker and near Stanford’s 33-yard line.
Smith dove. The ball found its way into his hands. The official signaled it complete. But after Price hurried the offense to the line of scrimmage with 1:15 remaining and tried to get the ball snapped, a whistle blew, and the Huskies’ fate was directed upstairs to the replay booth.
Replays shown in the stadium appeared to be inconclusive, though it’s not known which angle the replay official viewed. Did the ball hit the ground before Smith corralled it?
Yes, said the officials. No, said Smith, adamantly.
“You can feel it,” said Smith, who had six other catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. “You flip your hands over and then you just secure it with your body and whatnot, when it’s dying down that low and you’re trying to get it. I felt like I caught it. I know I caught it.”
UW coach Steve Sarkisian wasn’t quite as vehement, though his frustration with the entire process was not difficult to decipher.
“It’s unfortunate the game had to come down to a judgment call like that,” Sarkisian said. “That part was unfortunate because it was two good football teams battling and competing with one another, and I wish the game would have got won on the field and not in a booth upstairs with some guy that didn’t get to feel the emotion and the hard fought football game that game was.”
What was Sarkisian told by his assistant coaches who viewed the replay?
“They saw what we saw on the jumbo-tron,” Sarkisian said. “It was ruled a catch, and to determine it not a catch, they have to overrule it and determine that it wasn’t. From my vantage point, it looked like it was pretty hard to overturn it. But again, I didn’t get to sit 50 yards up in a booth and play video-game and make the call.”
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple