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Navy Comeback Wiped Out by Unsportsmanlike Penalty, Was it Fair?

More often than football fans would like, exhuberance is often mistaken for unsportsmanlike behavior. Egregious celebrations aside, players should have a little wiggle room to be excited. The good news is that they usually get it. Unfortunately that was not the case for Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor. The great fourth quarter comeback by the Midshipmen was all for naught when Proctor was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty after scoring in overtime Saturday against Air Force.

The overtime touchdown was Navy’s first lead against Air Force. Football is a game of yards, and the 15 yards that came with the flag turned out to be very costly. After being pushed back on their extra-point attempt, Navy missed the kick and their lead stood at six points. Air Force subsequently scored and kicked the PAT to win the game. After coming back from 18 points and taking the lead, this was a rip-your-heart-out kind of penalty.

But should Proctor have been penalized?  On replay, Proctor emerged from the pile and slighty shoved a Falcon player (I say “slightly” because the man barely even registered the contact) as he made his way to the other side of the pile.  Then, he pushed another Falcon who was still standing over the pile, presumably to get him out of the way so his teammates could get up.   We’re talking about a man full of glee and adrenaline and testosterone.  Still, nothing Proctor did seemed that flagrant, especially if you consider the circumstances.

Back judge David Vaughan, who threw the flag, probably missed the Steelers/Ravens game because there were at least a half dozen altercations that looked much worse than Proctor’s penalty. The call was sort of like getting ticketed for speeding at 70 on the freeway.

Although the place-kicker should have made what was basically a chip shot FG, plays ought to be analyzed on their own, not what comes afterward. In this case, neither Vaughan, nor Proctor should be tongue-whipped. Instead, let’s ask ourselves why referees, especially the college variety, don’t start giving a little more space between bad sportsmanship and joy? It’s not like Proctor jumped up just to get into it with an Air Force defender.


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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFFUBCPTZWKPG6ETHJ3RCQHF6U Bruce

    It ws a simply absurd call– but Navy players KNOW better than to leave the game in the hands of the officials!  This is a senior (Midshipman First Class), who is supposed to know all about leadership and composure under fire.  He made MINOR mistakes that were overblown by a zealous zebra– but he made the mistakes none-the-less.  Call it a chicken-sh*t loss, but still a loss.  I’m still waiting to hear any SEMBLANCE of an apology from either Proctor or Navy, and that surprises me.  We don’t normally “whine” our way through the season, and I hope this attitude doesn’t catch on!

  • Anonymous

    There was trash talking going on from the start of the game.  That is a call that has to be made at the beginning of the game, not at the end.  Good officials are identified by their ability to manage a game, and the best do it through ‘preventative officiating.’  This same crew blew a turnover early in the game, when the AFA recovered a fumble, and that play was overturned because of an inadvertent whistle.  This game will be one of the poorest officiated D1 football games all season.  The teams and the fans deserved a better performance from this crew!

  • Anonymous

    Is this article serious?  I could care less about the outcome of this game, but it was pretty clear in the replay that Proctor basically bumped the Air Force player who was just standing there from behind, and got him to turn around just so he could talk sh*t.  It was not “so his teammates could get up”…sorry.