I just got done watching Oxford defeat Center Hill 40-27 in football. Throughout much of the 2nd Half, it seemed like every single call was going against the Mustangs. There were several calls that was questioned by the Center Hill coaching staff including both onside kicks Oxford was able to recover in the game. The call though I believe started the domino effect was when Center Hill's band was called for Delay of Game penalized against the team via having the Halftime clock expire with their band still on the field doing their halftime routine. They also had their dance squad perform a halftime routine to lead off halftime with the OHS band sandwiched in-between the two routines.
I have seen this just once before with Pearl's band introducing each Senior band member WELL after the halftime clock had ended during the playoffs around 2-3 years ago.
At one point during an Oxford possession in the 3rd Quarter, Oxford's Jarius Barnes was tackled for a 3-yard loss to prepare an upcoming 3rd down play, a flag was thrown by the back judge for what was a Personal Foul Face Mask penalty. (Note: I'm up in the press box where I can hear much of what is being said by the OHS coaches, Don & Denny who do Radio & TV for Oxford and usually I can hear the main press box crew on the home side) Everyone who had a high enough view saw the Face Mask during the play and figured that was the call (because it happened on the opposite end of the field).
It took the officials at the game 2-3 minutes to finally make the call to the dismay of everyone wearing Red & Black. It was not so much the call that managed to tick off the Mustang sideline further, it was the timing and how much time it took to make what appeared to be a simple penalty to call where the coaching staff was expecting a much different call. Frustration mounted from there.
After Oxford scored a Field Goal in the 2nd Half, the Chargers pulled and onside kick that was recovered just across the 50 yard line. Oxford had previously recovered an onside kick right before halftime that was argued by Center Hill that it did not go 10 yards. On the first one, I had the advantage of looking back on the game tape I was filming to see the ball clearly strike the 50 yard line (thus having the ball clearly traveled the 10 yards required before Oxford could touch it) and then going another 1 1/2 yards before a mad pile went after it. It squirted back across the 50 and then knocked back across again before Oxford fell on it.
On the 2nd onside kick, the kick was dribbled across the 50 and then Oxford fell on it immediately, catching the Mustangs off guard and not having the reaction time to try to fall on it. Center Hill's coaching staff went on to argue that call that it did not go 10 yards and the frustration just took over. The head coach was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and almost earned much more than that; things started to unravel from there. It was at this point where the officials lost nearly all control of the game and I was surprised there were not any ejections. From that point on, pushing and shoving (and kicking at one point which I'm fixing to get to) between players started to happen. This situation was not handled very well by the officials and should have known that tempers would flare because of previous calls that occurred prior to the onside kick play and the reaction they had to those previously.
Early in the fourth quarter where Center Hill had to go for it on 4th Down down 20, Center Hill tried to throw a pass to the left but fell incomplete. A flag was thrown in the area where the QB was on his back and an Oxford defender was looking down at him almost looking like he was saying something to taunt him. It was a complete shock to the Center Hill fan base (and me at first) when the foul was actually on Center Hill and I found out later that the Center Hill QB kicked the Oxford defender while the QB was down instead of unsportsmanlike conduct or a late hit foul and an automatic first down against Oxford.
That put more fire into the bonfire already torched on the Center Hill sideline and fans in the stands from a slew of calls that have gone against them and not getting unrealistic calls that looked like the same thing (but was not) that Center Hill was called for that they wanted, where it appeared Oxford did something dirty from the way it looked and Center Hill got punished for it.
Those situations above was just a fraction of what went on during the game. The control of the game by the officials at the game was awful to the point where I was afraid a fight was fixing to break out or someone was going to get injured. Plays were being extended after the player was clearly being driven backwards. Several of what I considered late hits occurred on both teams that would have warranted a penalty that were penalties during the course of the game on other plays. This looked like the NFL referees in the Monday Night game last week where they almost allowed control to go beyond the refs. These are the types of things that start fights and brawls and having several people ejected. Luckily it did not get down to that point and cooler heads prevailed.
This game with all that went on throughout the game and especially in the second half was lucky to not have more than a kick or a single push or a single shove where it could have multiplied very quickly.
Center Hill has a classy bunch over there with a passionate student fan base (it was shown last year during the Girls Basketball North Half Final game when they bused a student section down and did the same thing when they upset Lainer). Cool heads were overheated tonight but they still shook hands at the end. There was no real doubt as to who earned the win in this game as Center Hill put themselves in an early 20-0 hole and never found a way out. Fans do get really ticked when every single thing is not going their way, I have been there several times.
Officials MUST do a better job than what was shown at CHHS tonight, the calls was mainly accurate, none of the "50/50" ones went their way and the officials did a really poor job of making the calls in a timely manner and likely explained it to the point where some things should not have been said - we do not really know the conversations that occur at the sidelines - but I have a hunch that the head referee said a few choice words tonight after all the heat he took from their coaching staff. Once that got out of hand, they almost could not control the player's actions - and that is a worst case possible.
Referees are there to enforce the rules of the game and to control the stuff the players and especially the coaches might flare up - and to know exactly what to do and know what they are doing when stuff like this DOES happen. I know that, I have to do that almost on a daily basis during the rec soccer season.