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Washington State scored a TD on fifth down thanks to a Pac-12 ref's inadvertent whistle


Washington State ran a bad play on 4th-and-5 against Arizona State. The pass to Gabe Marks was well short of the first down marker, and with a slew of Sun Devils defenders in his face, he didn't have a hope of getting the first down. It should've been a turnover on downs.

But then a ref blew a whistle:

Look at the confusion in this screencap -- and save it for the next time a Pac-12 ref does something wrong.

It looks like the ref with a whistle in his mouth accidentally let out a toot as Marks was tackled near him.

On Sunday, the league acknowledged a mistake had been made, and the line judge who blew the call has been handed a one-game suspension.

Marks also had an outstanding explanation:


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Marks wasn't down or out of bounds or even being touched by ASU defenders when the whistle blew, making it an inadvertent whistle. If the refs hadn't blown the whistle, he didn't have a chance at a first down. And honestly, even with the inadvertent whistle, Marks didn't get the first down: After a brief pause, Arizona State's defenders regrouped and got him out of bounds before the marker.

But Rule 4, Section 1, Article 2, Paragraph B1 states that when the ref blows an inadvertent whistle while a player has the ball, the team in possession gets a chance to replay the down or keep the spot of the ball. The spot of the ball was a turnover on downs, so Wazzu took another shot at fourth down.

And with their second chance at fourth down, Luke Falk tossed a TD pass to Dom Williams. The refs' inadvertent whistle cost Arizona State a touchdown.

I guess it's karma for when Pac-12 refs blew a Wazzu play dead last year because they saw a blocker fall to the ground.