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.)