An Illinois high school semifinal game between Plainfield North HS and Fenwick HS went down to the wire last weekend, and a botched call by the officiating crew helped one team advance to the state title game, while the other was left looking for answers.
Last weekend, on the final play of regulation, with Fenwick holding on to a 10-7 lead with just four seconds left, Fenwick quarterback Jacob Keller tossed the ball incomplete downfield on 4th-and-15 and the clock expired. Fenwick players celebrated what they thought was a win, however, officials flew a flag and called intentional grounding. That gave the ball back to Plainfield North for one untimed down, which they used to kick a field goal to send the game to overtime.
Plainfield North went on to score on a two-point conversion to seal the controversial win, 18-17. The game has had the entire country talking.
Afterward, the IHSA admitted via a release that the officials had indeed blown the call, and that Plainfield North should have never been allowed an untimed down - which they used to kick the field goal to send the game into overtime. The IHSA issued the following statement.
“On the final play of the fourth quarter in today’s IHSA Class 7A Semifinal Football game between Fenwick High School and Plainfield North High School, an error was made by the officiating crew, which resulted in an untimed down being awarded to Plainfield North. The IHSA issued the following statement after the game before adding that the result is final.
"On the untimed down, Plainfield North tied the contest with a field goal and then went on to win the game in overtime. Per Rule 3-3-4 in the 2016 NFHS Football Rules Book, the game should have concluded on the final play of regulation and the untimed down should not have been awarded."
The IHSA suggested that Fenwick appeal the decision if they wanted, but then decided later that they would not hear an appeal. Fenwick filed a lawsuit in Cook County asking for a judge's decision on the matter.
Plainfield North has publicly said that they plan on playing in the state title game and have prepared accordingly.
Seeing as this wasn't a true judgment call and the officials just did something flat out wrong, this may be one instance where I could see a court of law intervening and making things "right". Either way, tough on the kids, coaches, teams, and communities involved.
The Chicago Tribune raised an interesting question in the shadow of the game, asking about issues of sportsmanship, ethics, and doing what is right all being at play in this situation.
JUST IN >> The judge hearing the case decided that Fenwick has not shown inconsistent applications of the rules, and has sided with the IHSA.