An officials’ error that went unnoticed cost Burlington a full complement of downs on a key drive in its one-point loss to Rice, coach Brennan Carney said earlier this week.
The Seahorses were stopped on a two-point conversion try in the final minute as Rice held on for a 21-20 high school football win, but it was a drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters that left Carney frustrated.
At the start of the fourth quarter and with Rice leading 15-14, Burlington should have had a second-and-1 from the Green Knights’ 9-yard line. Instead, following two runs that yielded no yards, Rice regained possession.
After the “fourth-down play,” Carney attended to an injured Burlington player and didn’t voice any objection to officials.
“We were more worried about the player who got hurt. I thought it was my fault that I didn’t manage the game correctly,” Carney said. “I don’t understand how the mistake was made.”
A premature whistle also cost Burlington a touchdown on a tipped pass in the third quarter. The play was ruled down at the Rice 42, a potential 79-yard score for naught. That drive ended when Rice stopped Burlington on what turned out to be the same fourth-and-1 play that wasn’t.
“They realize if we as a team could have played better we wouldn’t be talking about this. It wasn’t about that one play or those calls by the ref,” Carney said. “I lost sleep for these kids. … It is what it is — more of a big deal because it’s Rice and the seniors never beat them.”
Multiple attempts to reach Gary Hoadley, the northern commissioner for the Vermont Football Officials Association, went unreturned.
Hoadley did respond to an email early Tuesday morning, saying, “questions submitted by high school football programs or the Vermont Principals’ Association to the Vermont Football Officials Association are reviewed and replied.”
The loss left Burlington at 2-3 and fighting to stay alive in the Division I playoff race. While Carney said the defeat was tough on his team, they have pushed it aside and are preparing for a Homecoming battle with a streaking Essex squad on Friday night.
“You could be woe is me … or you could move on and do better. We stopped talking about,” Carney said.
The missed down in the Burlington game is not the first such case this season. BFA-Fairfax had its final drive of the game halted without a fourth down in a 28-20 loss to Mount Abraham last month.
“We were asking for a clarification and we never got one,” Fairfax coach Mike Williams said. “I don’t want to hammer (the officials). They do a terrific job, but this seems like an easy fix and not a big thing to handle. I could be wrong, I’ve never officiated before.”
Under VPA rules, a coach must file a protest during the game and not after the fact, said Bob Johnson, the associate executive director. Neither Carney nor Williams nor their schools submitted protests to the VPA.
Dozen CVU players to return this week
A dozen Champlain Valley Union football players missed last week’s game at South Burlington due to a team infraction, coach Jim Provost confirmed Monday.
The majority of the suspended players were starters, Provost said.
The Redhawks (4-2) lost to South Burlington 49-6. Provost said all 12 are available for Saturday’s home game against Mount Anthony.