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Illegal Spinning Or Illegal Stemming: What Was The Penalty At The End Of The New Orleans Bowl?

Everyone heard it, but nobody had a clue what the referee said on the second-to-last play in the New Orleans Bowl. As Louisiana-Lafayette lined up for a 55-yard field goal to win the game, there was movement on both sides before the snap. The referee signaled the infraction was on the defense, making a similar motion to that of an illegal procedure, but the confusion began when he tried to explain.

Simply put, the defense lurched towards the line of scrimmage first, and the officials determined the movement caused the offense to false start. The call from the head referee sounded like "illegal spinning," but he later clarified the call was illegal stemming. The rule is meant to prevent a defense from inducing a false start by feigning movement before the snap.

I'd never heard of it referred to as illegal stemming, or spinning, or simming, or what have you. Instead, the penalty is typically called delay of game, which is how the NCAA rulebook refers to it.

Linebacker B56 is stationary within one yard beyond the neutral zone. As the offense is calling its snap signals, B56 feints toward the line in an obvious attempt to induce a false start by the offense. RULING: Deadball foul, delay of game. Five-yard penalty at the succeeding spot.

Thanks to the penalty, the Ragin Cajuns moved five yards closer, and the 50-yard field goal was good. It wasn't pretty -- the kick was a knuckleball that just barely stayed inside the left upright -- but Louisiana-Lafayette secured the win in what was a wildly entertaining game for those who stayed up.