A timing error by the officiating crew and a brief malfunction of the instant replay review system combined to cost N.C. State valuable seconds at the end of the second quarter Saturday, Big East officiating coordinator Terry McAulay said Monday.
McAulay said the Big East crew improperly started the clock after a dead-ball false start penalty against N.C. State’s Julian Williams while the ball was at the Pittsburgh 2-yard line. The previous play had been an incomplete pass, so the clock should have remained stopped.
"Unfortunately the referee and the crew made a misstep," McAulay said.
The mistake caused N.C. State to call timeout and then kick a field goal on third down. The Wolfpack, which won 38-31 despite the error, should have had time to go for the end zone on third down before kicking a field goal on fourth down, if necessary.
McAulay said that by rule "egregious" timing errors such as that can be corrected in an instant replay review. But the replay system at Carter-Finley Stadium was malfunctioning and officials were switching to a backup system when the problem occurred.
ACC officiating coordinator Doug Rhoads said the replay glitches occurred shortly before the play in question and were fixed by the second half.
N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said Rhoads told him Saturday night that a mistake was made.
"But what good does it do me now?" O’Brien said.
McAulay said the play would count against the officials’ grade for the game and the season. On every play, officials receive grades that count toward an overall season score that helps determine whether they are assigned to postseason games.
Although the game was played at an ACC facility, it’s common for an officiating crew from the visiting team’s conference – in this case the Big East - to be assigned to a game.