Controversial overturned fourth-down catch dooms No. 23 Memphis late in loss to Temple

A catch late in the fourth quarter by Memphis tight end <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/255450/" data-ylk="slk:Joey Magnifico">Joey Magnifico</a> against Temple was controversially overturned. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
A catch late in the fourth quarter by Memphis tight end Joey Magnifico against Temple was controversially overturned. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

No. 23 Memphis looked like it was primed to take the lead in the final minutes of its game against Temple, until some controversy arose.

Down 30-28, the Tigers regained possession with 5:20 to play and drove into Temple territory. Facing a fourth-and-9 from the Temple 43, Memphis quarterback Brady White felt pressure, was forced to improvise and threw one in the direction of tight end Joey Magnifico.

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Magnifico laid out and appeared to make an impressive catch — one that would have been good enough for a first down at the Temple 30-yard line with under two minutes to play.

(via ESPN)
(via ESPN)

The connection was ruled a catch on the field, but was scrutinized further via instant replay. Perplexingly, the call was overturned with an official saying the ball hit the ground. But did it?

Here’s another look at the play:

(via ESPN)
(via ESPN)

Usually when a play is close, the replay official will fall back on the call on the field. Unless the replay official on hand in Philadelphia had another angle available, it’s hard to see where that ball may even have come close to touching the ground.

According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, the American Athletic Conference did not make the replay available for comment after the game, citing league policy on “judgement calls.” Instead, this statement was given to a pool reporter:

Instead of having a first down at the Temple 30 with a chance to go ahead, the ball went back to the Owls. Temple went three-and-out, giving Memphis one last shot with the ball with under a minute to go. That possession, however, went nowhere and Temple held on to a 30-28 upset victory.

The controversial replay wasn’t the only thing that cost Memphis a win. The Tigers turned the ball over four times, including three times in the first half. Those first-half turnovers helped Temple jump out to a 23-9 lead. Memphis cut the lead to 23-21 midway through the third, but Temple added another score early in the fourth, a score that proved to be the game winner.

With the win, Temple improve to 5-1 and 2-0 in AAC play. The loss was the first of the year for Memphis, who was ranked for the first time all season. That time in the rankings will only last a week.

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