Sunday, January 5, 2003

Ref says he just wanted to be right



The Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. - Referee Terry Porter would rather be late than wrong.

Porter's critical pass-interference call as Miami players were celebrating what they thought was another national championship cleared the way for Ohio State's tying touchdown in overtime of the Fiesta Bowl on Friday night.

In the far corner of the end zone, Porter waited for what seemed an eternity before throwing the flag after Craig Krenzel's fourth-down pass fell to the turf for what appeared to be the end of the game.

"I replayed it in my mind," Porter said. "I wanted to make double-sure that it was the right call."

The Big 12 Conference official long since had signaled an incomplete pass on fourth down, triggering Miami's celebration.

Then the Buckeyes went on to a 31-24 upset, and the Hurricanes faithful were left muttering about what almost was.

"I did not have a chance to see the call. ... Obviously on fourth down and long, it was a huge, huge play in the game," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "You hate for an official to have to make that call. You would like it to be a legitimate call."

The Hurricanes' Sean Taylor already had thrown his helmet into the desert sky in triumph but had to pick it up and go back on the field.

"Officials make the calls," Taylor said. "That wasn't a turning point. We should have never been in that position."

Not all the Hurricanes were so understanding.

"If you're going to make the call, make it right away," linebacker D.J. Williams said. "The guy from the back called it late. I thought we had it won."

Porter ruled that freshman cornerback Glenn Sharpe interfered with intended receiver Chris Gamble on the play.

"I saw the guy holding the guy prior to the ball being in the air," Porter said. "He was still holding him, pulling him down while the ball was in the air."

He first signaled incomplete. Then came the long wait.

"I saw it again," Porter said, recalling the moment he replayed the play in his head. "I wanted to make darn sure it was the right call."

Gamble, of course, insisted Porter made the right call.

"He was holding me. He was in my facemask and my shoulder pads," Gamble said. "I was waiting for the flag, but he kind of hesitated. I didn't see him going for the flag and I thought, 'He ain't going to throw it.' Luckily, he did, and I'm like, 'whew."'

Security guards cleared the field. The throng of Ohio State fans roared at Sun Devil Stadium, and the Buckeyes got a first down at the Miami 2.

Three bruising plays later, Krenzel scored from inside the 1, and the conversion kick made it 24-24 and forced another overtime.

Maurice Clarett's 5-yard touchdown run pushed Ohio State to a 31-24 lead, Miami was stopped and the Buckeyes had the huge upset.

Hurricanes fans will forever remember that long stare from Porter, how he seemed to be thinking about what he'd seen, and whether to throw the flag. They will remember how quickly they went from elation to numbness to disbelief.

Television replays showed that Sharpe appeared to grab Gamble before the ball arrived. Miami fans surely will dispute that, as well as the national title that slipped away and the bizarre end to a 34-game winning streak.




OHIO STATE: NATIONAL CHAMPS
Buckeyes' togetherness prevails
OSU fans forgo sleep to seek souvenirs
Ohio State on Coke cans
Buckeyes-Hurricanes title game a classic
At moment of truth, 'Canes blinked
Battered 'Canes reeling from agonizing loss
Celebration continues for Buckeyes' fans
Fiesta Bowl MVP missed team bus
Knee injury will keep McGahee a Hurricane
Fiesta Bowl highest-rated BCS title game
Ref says he just wanted to be right
Buckeyes want to repeat
Bucks 2002 season recap
Grossman decides to turn pro

XAVIER
No. 1 Alabama 65, No. 19 Xavier 58
Shelton's hot hand burns Musketeers

UC BEARCATS
For Land, success is in the battle

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
UK 83, Ohio 75
Three locals relish homecoming
Cusick brings her leadership to RedHawks
Miami 71, Central Michigan 62
Dayton 92, No. 13 Marquette 85 OT
No. 17 Indiana 70, Charlotte 60
No. 24 Louisville 72, Ohio State 64 OT
Top 25: Valpo tries, but Notre Dame survives
How the Top 25 fared, scores
UC women win school-record 16th straight at home

BENGALS
Bengals want miracle man on sidelines
Bengals interview Mularkey

NFL PLAYOFFS
Jets 41, Colts 0
Irsay should send Polian packing
No reason Jets can't win it all
Falcons 27, Packers 7
Browns-Steelers renew rivalry
Fassel hopes Giants' momentum continues in playoffs
Rolling Giants invade Candlestick
Colts' Harrison unanimous All-Pro

REDS
Eyeing budget, Reds shop for free agents
Reds Q&A

BASEBALL
Sandberg awaiting Hall's call
Baseball free agent signings

PREP SPORTS
Gardens, GCL reach deal for conference games
Ohio boys: Lakota tops Tigers
Ohio girls: Harrison springs upset
Ky. Boys: Lorenzen powers Scott past Holy Cross
Ky. Girls: Holy Cross holds off Allen County
Strawberry's son slows LeBron
Swimming: Centerville backs up the hype
Prep sports results

HOCKEY
Another victim of the Ice Age
Hockey available to kids of every age, ability level
Cyclones win 5th straight on road

TRISTATE SPOTLIGHT
Revival in full swing at Mount St. Joseph
Champali prevails in Prevue
Ali Center will trace boxer's life
Enquirer Page Two power rankings
Sports on TV