Central Michigan’s Incredible Game-Winning Hail Mary Shouldn’t Have Counted

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First things first: Central Michigan’s Hail Mary at the end of its game against Oklahoma State on Saturday was one of the craziest plays you’ll ever see.

The Chippewas trailed the Cowboys 27-24 with literally no time left on the clock and needed a touchdown from their own 49-yard line. And when receiver Jesse Kroll caught quarterback Cooper Rush’s desperation heave 12 yards short of the goal line, it looked like the game was over.

But then the improbable happened.

Kroll somehow lateraled the ball to teammate Corey Willis as he fell to the ground, allowing Willis to sprint in for the touchdown to give Central Michigan an incredible 30-27 walk-off win.

If you’re wondering how the Chippewas got an untimed down, however, you have good reason.

Oklahoma State had the ball on the preceding play, a fourth down with four seconds left. Quarterback Mason Rudolph chucked the ball out of bounds in an attempt to run out the clock, but since no receivers ran routes on the play, he was flagged for intentional grounding, a loss of down penalty that resulted in change of possession and an untimed down for Central Michigan.

There’s an NCAA rule for awarding untimed downs, but in this case, it appears the rule was applied incorrectly.

Head official Tim O’Dey confirmed the error, telling a pool reporter that the game should have ended on Rudolph’s intentional grounding penalty.

It’s a bit of a confusing rule, as Oklahoma State shouldn’t necessarily be rewarded for committing an intentional grounding penalty that would have given the ball to Central Michigan.

But the referees misinterpreted the rule, and unless you’re a Cowboys fan, you’re glad they did, because it paved the way for one of the wildest endings you’ll see in college football.

Thumbnail photo via Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports Images

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