The American Athletic Conference on Saturday acknowledged an officiating error that overturned a fumble call that would have ended what turned out to be the game-winning drive in Friday’s East Carolina-Tulsa game.
With 1:52 remaining in the game, on-field officials ruled that Tulsa running back T.K. Wilkerson fumbled after an 11-yard gain on first down, with East Carolina recovering at the 37-yard line. The replay official, however, reversed the call on the field after determining the ball carrier had regained possession and was down.
Tulsa scored the go-ahead touchdown with 29 seconds left Friday in what turned out to be a 34-30 victory against the Pirates.
After reviewing the video, the AAC on Saturday issued a statement saying the replay official was incorrect and Wilkerson had not regained possession of the ball, and the ruling on the field awarding the ball to East Carolina should not have been reversed.
The AAC communicated its findings to East Carolina and Tulsa, but the error does not change the outcome of the game.
“I don’t have much to say. The kids played their butts off. We should be sitting here singing the fight song right about now,” ECU coach Mike Houston told reporters after the game, according to the Charlotte Observer.
“How do you talk to [my players] after that? I have coached almost 200 ball games as a head coach in my life and 100-plus at the college level, and I have never seen anything like that in my entire life.”
Houston said it is up to the school to ask the conference to review any officiating calls, and he said athletic director Jon Gilbert was contacting the AAC after the game.
“Any calls we want them to take a look at, we can send it in,” Houston said. “It doesn’t get you the win back. That is the tough thing. It does not give you the win back, but we we’ll obviously send in the calls we think need to be looked at.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.