Penalty calls, bad ones too, part of the game

PERHAPS MIKE RILEY said it best, talking about the pass interference call that kept Utah breathing and gave the the No. 15 Utes a second shot at a tying, two point conversion. "I didn't have the best view of it. I saw one (official) signal incomplete. And then I saw a flag come out about a half-hour later," said Riley.

That's okay, coach. The official who threw the flag didn't have the best view of it either. But neither Riley nor his players used the penalty as an excuse. Nope. They gave Utah credit for the win:


"Somebody told me it was uncatchable and shouldn't have been called. They called it, but that didn't lose us the game. We had another chance to make a play, but they scored on the next play. We didn't step up and make the play," said Greg Laybourn, who was the player flagged.

"I saw the whole thing, but I'm not going to dog them," linebacker Keaton Kristick said. "That's a great team. They played really well."

"We're not going to point any fingers," offensive tackle Andy Levitre said. "It was an overall team loss. It hurts, but we'll be back."

"I'm really disappointed with the loss. This would have been a fantastic win, but I give (Utah) a lot of credit. They played real well," said Mike Riley.

But oh, that call.

THE OFFICIAL WITH the best view of the play called it incomplete. The official standing sideways from the play, and behind it, threw the flag. Whether the pass was uncatchable, a hotly debated topic across cyberspace after the game, almost certainly couldn't be seen from his angle.

And the flag came in late. "Very late," said Glenn Parker, the TV analyst who calls the Mountain West games for the Versus network.

And maybe if Greg Laybourn had immediately celebrated, and hadn't looked around right afterwards, the official keeps that one in his pocket. And Beaver fans could be excused if they were exasperated by game's end.

After all, they had seen a helmet ripped off one of their player's heads for the second time in two weeks without a flag being thrown. As the whistle was being blown on a punt return in the first quarter, a Utah player pulled once, twice, finally three times on Sammie Stroughter's helmet. When the headgear finally -- inexorably -- came free, the Utah player flung it towards the sidelines where it landed in full view of an official, and not far from him.

An obvious personal foul, and a dangerous one. But no penalty was called.

Nor was one when a blitzing Kristick, seemingly ready to tackle the ballcarrier for a loss, was himself tackled from behind by a Utah offensive lineman. Again, the play happened in full view of an official.

BUT IN THE end, the penalties, and the fouls that weren't called, they didn't decide this game -- Oregon State and Utah both stepped up at the end. And Utah stepped up last.

Utah was whistled four times, Oregon State seven, all told. And though OSU was called for nearly twice as many penalties by the Mountain West crew, it must be pointed out two of Utah's fouls kept alive Beaver possessions. Oregon State still had a chance at the end -- and at the least -- to force overtime. And Utah did a fantastic job against the Beavers' inside zone run all night long.

The Oregon State sideline had it right. Give Utah credit.

"They made some good throws," linebacker Keith Pankey said of Utah's final drive. "We had some good coverage and they made some good catches."

But boy, did a few calls go begging. And boy, did that last penalty call hurt.

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