Football: Did Western's Nick Trevail score? You make the call

No one who watched the second half of Queen's 43-39 Yates Cup win over Western is going to forget it too soon, especially the no-touchdown call on a goal-line reception by the Mustangs' Nick Trevail when the score was tied with 6½ minutes to play.

That Mustangs drive ended with a field goal. That four-point swing was the Golden Gaels' winning margin, although (key difference) the play did not give them their winning margin. The Gaels earned it by stopping Western there, scoring a touchdown and making two more stops.

Everyone thought Trevail was in, present company included. Tuesday's London Free Press said, "The film showed Trevail should have been awarded a touchdown."

(Update: A media member shared that during a conversation at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats game last Sunday, George Black, CFL director of officials, said the ball did not cross the goal line and the official made the right call.)

On a play when the receiver leaps or dives to make a catch in the end zone, it's not where the ball is when he gets his hands on it. It's where the ball is when he has secured the catch and gets a foot down (a knee, elbow or hip may equal a foot). The rule is the same as it is on sideline catches. The receiver has to have control of the ball ("secure the catch") and get one "foot" down with the ball in the end zone or in touch.

This is not to be taken as authoritative. It's just a couple screen-grabs made from The Score's recap of the game (right around the 2:20-2:25 mark). Zapruder, I ain't. It's hard to see at what if at any point Trevail had control of the ball and got his foot/knee/hip/elbow down with the ball across the goal line, satisfying three requirements for a touchdown.

The question is simple: what would have happened if Trevail had dropped the ball when he landed? To most observers, that would be an incomplete pass, meaning possession hadn't been established yet.

At 2:24: Trevail gets his hands on the ball, but his feet are off the ground, thus it is not yet a bona fide pass completion. His momentum, since he was running one of Western's patented comeback routes, is taking him toward the goal line. The camera appears to be a couple of yards deep in the end zone, so that can affect the angle. It's not clear if the ball is in the end zone.

Trevail's feet are not down at this point; on the original angle, you can see his knee is the first part to touch.

Still at 2:24: Trevail does not seem to have a foot down, at least if you look at where his right foot is in relation to the lower left leg of Queen's defender Ben D'Andrea.

At 2:25: Trevail's left knee has come down and the catch is official (and by CIS rules, the play is dead when his knee touches), but look where the ball is. Trace a line through the ball parallel to the goal line. Perhaps this is not the exact moment of contact between Trevail and the Richardson Stadium turf (it might have come a blink sooner). It's iffy whether he's in at this point. It looks like the ball would be marked down inside the 1-yard line.

One last pic just to show Trevail's body position as he came down. You can't see the ball.

Please don't take this as scientific. Like almost everyone else, I thought it was a touchdown too. Those four frames are from about one second of elapsed time, officials aren't perfect, but it's important to keep this in mind: The camera might not lie, but it does distort occasionally.

(Three weeks later, we found this clip and the shot is too distant to be conclusive. Notice the referee was standing on the goal line, though. If it was a touchdown, he could have overruled the other official. He didn't.)

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  1. The least we can say is that the ref is at the right place to make the call.

    According to these pics, this isn't a TD.

    My two cents.

  2. The ref is in the right spot ... if he stands on the goal line, he might get blocked out from seeing if the receiver had it or was juggling the ball.

    Thanks Bizz.

  3. From watching the game on the Score, there was one frame from a different angle that they showed while Trevail was on the ground. The tip of the ball was right on the white of the goal line. Unfortunately, you can't see that from these pictures, and probably not from the highlights either.

  4. I never really thought it crossed the goal line.
    Just sayin' :-) It was awful close though and the ref was undoubtedly in the best position to make the call; better than the camera.
    At any rate, as we used to say before replays, if it's so close that the call can go either way than you didn't do a good enough job. Don't leave it up to the ref's discretion.

  5. Hmmm. We would need a game tape and I don't have access at this time. Thing is as soon as the knee hit the play was over. If he pulled the ball back toward the goal line afterward, no deal.

  6. Tom Brady’s tuck rule against Oakland, Brett Hull's big toe in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Ducks-Sooners fiasco a couple of years ago, and the recent Colts-Pats fourth down play all tell a tale that questions whether replay is essential to sport. Would replay have ruled that Trevail was in the endzone? There’s a pretty good chance it would have and that would have certainly impacted the play that transpired in the aftermath. However, would a replay ruling have made the contest any more compelling or emotional? No, this contest was the absolute epitome of what athletics can express. The call simply adds to the legend.

  7. It wasn't a score. Period. As a staunch Western supporter(old fogey side of field) I didn't see it in but had no benefit of replay. Western had plenty of chances to go ahead after this and didn't capitalize.

    I am not at all disappointed with the outcome. Most of Western receptions happened in extreme or tight coverage(full credit to Faulds) and a large part of Queen's reception including TD's in lax single coverage or blown/poorly aligned coverage. Western will need to go back to the drawing board next year in regards to their defense, and not all issues can be blamed on their player personnel.

    Queen's deserved this win although they should have put Western away earlier especially in the first half. There was no question to those in the stands no matter their affiliation, that Queen's would score at least a FG if not a TD on their final drive. Small mistakes including a clip on a first down play on Western final drive and leaving Faulds in when he was not a threat at all to run/scramble all pointed against a Western win.

    In the end, a Western win with a close result and nothing left for Laval was our worst nightmare for OUA success against Laval.

    Considering the OUA has won only twice in the last 14 years(1995-2008) versus 6 times in the previous 5 years(1979-1994)with 4 in the early 1990's,the OUA has to step up a notch. With a decent D line, a fairly good O line and a good set of offensive and defensive backs, this is possibly the OUA year.

    Hope Mitchell Bowl accounts well for both Laval and Queen's

  8. 6 times in the previous 15 years. Oops sorry.

  9. Nice job getting some screen grabs. It's that third shot that's the killer for Western, if indeed it represents the first time Trevail's knee touched the ground. His left forearm is clearly on the goal line, and the ball is further out. I find it hard to believe the ball could break the plane, after he touches the ground, given that position.

  10. @12:10: No worries ... from 1980-94 ... lemme test myself, Western 1994, Toronto 1993, Laurier 1991, Western 1989, Guelph 1984. That's 5, Queen's was an O-Q team in 1992.

  11. Are you sure you need to have a foot down in the end zone for a catch?

    In a situation like this where you are coming back for the ball but still land in the field of play - but no the endzone - I thought it would be ruled a TD if the ball crosses the goal line evn if you are in the air.

  12. It might be moot. Ted Michaels from CHML 900 in Hamilton just told me he talked about with George Black of the CFL. He said Black told him the ball never crossed the goal line and the official made the right call.

    I believe (stress, believe) it's where you are when you secure the catch. The catch isn't secured until Trevail's knee comes down on the goal line with the ball apparently in the field of the play.

    And like Greg Marshall said, Western had first-and-goal at the Queen's 1-yard line and ended up kicking a field goal.

  13. No Rob, That third picture is what actually confirms that the catch was in the endzone. Trevail's shoulder is shown to be 8 to 10 inches behind the beginning point of the endzone stripe. Additionally, Trevail's arm, between his shoulder and elbow, is positioned virtually perpendicular with the goal line. For those reasons alone it is impossible for the ball to not have been in for a major. Finally, just to further complete this analysis, it must also be recognized that Trevail is holding the ball so that it rests partially along his forearm. The postion and posture of the ball therefore indicates that the ball was not only just breaking the plain of the stripe but it was at least 3 inches over that plain. Sorry folks, that was a blown call.

  14. Please keep in mind we pointed out right off the hop this could not be definitive due to the camera angle. There's no way to be sure, touchdown or no-touchdown. There's no way we could be precise to within 3 inches.

    It shows there might have been justification for the call or it might have been wrong. There's no confirmation one way or the other. It's just raised for discussion and for people to decide for themselves.

    It's the difference between dusk and dawn, not night and day.