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November 7, 2011
SEC defends interception call
TUSCALOOSA | The officials got it right.
That's the position the Southeastern Conference office took Monday about the game-changing interception by LSU's Eric Reid in the fourth quarter of last Saturday's game against the University of Alabama.
The turnover came on a play where Alabama wideout Marquis Maze threw a pass to tight end Michael Williams out of the wildcat formation with just over 11 minutes left and the score tied 6-all. Reid was awarded possession at the 1-yard line.
LSU won the game, 9-6 in overtime.
On the play in question, Williams grasped the high-arcing pass with both hands while he was in the air, but Reid was able to wrestle it from his grasp at some point.
The question is exactly when Williams lost control, and SEC Supervisor of Officials Steve Shaw said video evidence supports the call made on the field, that Williams did not maintain possession of the pass all the way to the ground.
"Following the on-field ruling of the interception, the play was reviewed and the replay confirmed the decision on the field," Shaw said in a statement released in response to questions about the call. "The replay showed that before the Alabama receiver made contact with the ground, he lost control of the ball. The LSU defender obtained possession of the ball prior to the ball hitting the turf, thus giving the defensive team possession of the ball.
"By rule, to complete a catch, a player must have possession as stated in NCAA Playing Rule 2-4-1 (a), which says, 'A player "gains possession"
when he secures the ball firmly by holding or controlling it while contacting the ground inbounds. The ball is then in player possession.'"
Television replays seem to show Williams losing a firm grasp of the ball with at least one hand on his descent to the turf at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It is unclear if he maintained total control with one hand or was able to reestablish control before making contact with the ground.
After the game, Alabama coach Nick Saban referred to the play as "a possible touchdown that turns out to be an interception." Saban did not address the call at his Monday news conference.