ACC acknowledges Miami should not have beaten Duke on last-second play

The ACC on Sunday acknowledged that officials made four major errors at the end of the contest that led to Miami’s stunning last-second win against Duke.

The Hurricanes used an eight-lateral play on the final kickoff return of the game to march down the field for the game-winning score, but the ACC claims that victory should have never been awarded to Miami because of the following errors:

- 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.

- A block in the back foul was called at the Duke 26-yard line. After the officials conferred, which is appropriate, 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; however, the referee did not effectively manage communication and properly explain why the flag was picked up.

- In addition, 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.

During the play, officials threw a flag on what looked like a block in the back and spent more than nine minutes speaking with replay officials about any possible infractions. In the end, the officiating crew declared the play legal and the touchdown stood.

The ACC also suspended the officiating crew for two games.

“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.”

Despite the acknowledgement of the errors, there was no statement that the ACC would reverse the outcome of the game.

Duke was still in the hunt for the ACC Coastal and a win would have kept the Blue Devils tied with North Carolina for the top of the division. Miami, which was playing in its first game without head coach Al Golden, was more or less out of the divisional race.

Miami, which was looking for anything positive after what has been a disappointing season, offered this response on Twitter:

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