Officials make (another) critical error in B.C. loss to Ottawa

Another week, another officiating blunder at a crucial moment in the game.

Just a week after the CFL admitted blowing a pass interference call in the Hamilton Tiger-Cats loss to the Toronto Argonauts, on-field officials gifted a first down and 13 yards of field position to the Ottawa Redblacks with under five minutes to play in their come-from-behind win over the B.C. Lions on Saturday.

Leading 30-25 but backed up at their own six-yard line, Ottawa quarterback Trevor Harris threw a pass intended for receiver Greg Ellingson. The ball bounced around as Ellingson went to the ground tangled up with B.C. defender Anthony Gaitor, ultimately getting knocked forward where it was recovered by Ottawa’s Brad Sinopoli. The ruling on the field was a catch, followed by a fumble and a recovery by Ottawa for a first down.

But Ellingson clearly never has possession of the football.

B.C. was out of timeouts and had used their only challenge and because the ball didn’t change possession it was not reviewed by the command centre (which, ironically, would have ruled the pass incomplete and given the ball back to Ottawa.) The video review official did not fix the call because it’s still unclear what, exactly, the video review official is supposed to fix.

So instead of facing second-and-10 from their own six-yard-line, the Redblacks were first-and-10 at the 19. The Redblacks gained more than 50 yards and killed in excess of three minutes off the clock before punting back to B.C.

Just as the error in the Ticat-Argo game wasn’t the reason Hamilton lost, B.C. can hardly blame the mistake for blowing a 19-point lead. But it’s just the latest in a season-long series of errors that continues to undermine the confidence in the league’s ability to correct clear mistakes by on-field officials that have a significant impact on the game. Mistakes happen and that’s fine. But replay was supposed to address egregious errors that were clear to the TV audience and could be identified quickly. Right now, that’s not happening.

The reaction from Ottawa head coach Rick Campbell and offensive coordinator Jaime Elizondo after the call was classic: they knew they’d been handed a gift.

Over to you, Mr. Ambrosie.

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