by Jake McDonald, CORE 360 Magazine
No one will argue that football is not a game of inches except Miles College Head Coach Reginald Ruffin. Saturday night inches led to a controversial call that set up Albany State’s game winning touchdown to complete a 17-14 come from behind win over Miles College.
Ahead 14-10 and half of the final quarter in the books, Miles forced the Rams to punt. The punt from Ryan Latner was muffed by Golden Bears return man Darren Fife and recovered by Rams special teamer Untayous Benson. Ruffin argued Fife didn’t get enough inches of space to make an attempt to catch the punt. According to the NCAA Rule Book, no defender is allowed to stand closer than 36 inches in front of the player attempting to catch a punt.
Benson chased down the loose ball, scooped it up at the Golden Bears 7, and raced into the endzone. As if the non-flag weren’t confusing enough for Ruffin, the officials waved off the touchdown and spotted the ball at the 4 yard line.
Junior running back Adrian Anderson on the game winning touchdown, “I had to get it in the endzone and make them pay”.
The score was Albany’s State’s first touchdown since Frank Rivers’ pass to Larry Walker in the back of the endzone midway through the first quarter.
Miles scored the next two touchdowns in the first half to take a 14-7 lead going into the break. Quarterback David Thomas zipped a 19 yard pass to Antonio Pitts in the endzone for the Golden Bears first points of the game. Thomas called his own number from the 5 yard line cutting back against the flow of the defense and exploiting the gap for the go-ahead score.
Albany State added a 28 yard field goal after blocking a Brandon Carney punt late in the third.
Albany State’s win reverses the outcome of not only the 22-14 loss in September but the 2011 loss in the Championship game against these very same Miles Golden Bears. In that game, sophomore QB Thomas and freshman Pitts, upset the vaunted Rams 20-17 to win the college’s first football championship.
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