Confused ref inadvertently signals touchback on go-ahead Illinois TD (Video)

Dr. Saturday
Kendrick Foster (22) ran for 146 yards and 2 TDs in Illinois’ win over Michigan State. (AP Photo/ Stephen Haas)
Kendrick Foster (22) ran for 146 yards and 2 TDs in Illinois’ win over Michigan State. (AP Photo/ Stephen Haas)

One referee in the Michigan State-Illinois game had a major brain fart late in the fourth quarter.

Trailing the Spartans 27-24 with under two minutes to play, the Illini had driven deep into MSU territory. On a second-and-six play from the MSU 16, true freshman quarterback Jeff George Jr. looked toward the end zone and found Sam Mays for a go-ahead 16-yard score.

It was a touchdown to everybody in the building. However, the ref closest to the play accidentally signaled it as a touchback.

I guess he briefly forgot who was on offense and thought it was an interception for the Illini. Here’s another look:

ref2
ref2

It was an honest mistake, and another ref quickly came over to confer with him. After a brief moment of confusion (for some — Illinois’ players were celebrating the score), the head referee announced it was a touchdown.

Since the correct call was quickly made and announced to those in attendance and watching, it ended up being no big deal.

The score proved to be the game-winner for the Illini, snapping a brief two-game skid for Lovie Smith’s squad, which improved to 3-6 overall and 2-4 in Big Ten play.

On the other side, Michigan State’s freefall continues. One of the most disappointing teams in the country, the Spartans are now 2-7 on the year and winless, 0-6, in the conference. The 31-27 loss marked the seventh straight for MSU.

For Illinois, the win is the first over Michigan State since 2006.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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