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ACC suspends officials after Miami-Duke wild finish

By The Sports Xchange

The Atlantic Coast Conference suspended the on-field officiating crew as well as the replay official and communicator for four errors on the final wild play that gave Miami a 30-27 win over Duke on Saturday.

The league announced Sunday a series of errors occurred during the play, which featured eight laterals off a Duke kickoff and ended with a 91-yard touchdown run by the Hurricanes' Corn Elder at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C.

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The ACC suspended the entire crew for two ACC games.

The league said the errors that occurred during the last play of the game are:

--The replay official erred in not overturning the ruling on the field that the Miami player had released the ball prior to his knee being down. If called, this would have ended the game.

--The on-field officials erred by failing to penalize Miami for an illegal block in the back at the Miami 16-yard line. If called, the ball would have been placed at the Miami 8-yard line and the game would have been extended for an untimed down.

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--A block in the back foul was called at the Duke 26-yard line. After the officials conferred, they correctly determined that the block was from the side, which resulted in the flag being picked up. The replay official was not involved in the decision to pick up the flag, but the referee did not effectively manage communication and properly explain why the flag was picked up.

--The on-field crew failed to penalize a Miami player for leaving the bench area and entering the field prior to the end of the play. This foul would not have negated the touchdown because it would have been enforced as a dead ball foul.

"The quality of our officiating program is of the highest importance to the league and its schools, and the last play of the game was not handled appropriately," ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "Officiating is an extraordinarily difficult job but our players, coaches, programs and fans deserve the best that can be offered. We will continue to strive to meet that standard."

On Miami's kickoff return, an illegal blocking penalty was initially called. But after extensive replay reviews of the play, the penalty was rescinded and it was determined that at no time was a Miami player taken to the ground with the ball.

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After the announcement, Miami players and coaches spilled onto the field.

"I wish I could shed more light on that play," a perturbed Duke coach David Cutcliffe said after the game. "Disappointed is not close to being enough of a word to describe this moment.

"I'm going to just tell you like it is: I thought the guy was down. And I think pictures will prove me right."

The officiating crew included referee Jerry Magallanes, Terrence Ramsay (umpire), Mike Owens (linesman), Jim Slayton (line judge), Robert Luklan (back judge), Bill Dolbow (field judge), Michael McCarthy (side judge), Tracy Lynch (center judge) and George Burton (replay communicator).

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