With Virginia holding a 3-0 lead early in the second quarter Saturday against William & Mary, Cavaliers senior cornerback Chase Minnifield intercepted a pass at the Tribe 29 yard-line and sprinted into the end zone for what he and about 51,000 other people at Scott Stadium thought was a touchdown.
But pass interference was called on the play, negating the interception and the Virginia score. After the game, Minnifield said he disagreed with the call, noting he’s “a big believer in, you know, we’ve got the same opportunity to go for the ball as the receiver do.”
On Monday, Cavaliers Coach Mike London also expressed disagreement with the call. He said he sent that play to ACC officials and asked for it to be reviewed.
“The call was made that there was a bump, and you could say that, whether the quarterback pump-faked or he had to step up in the pocket because of the rush, as long as the ball’s in his hands, I’m quite sure that (the cornerback) can bump (the receiver),” London said. “But it was interpreted that the ball was in the air as the bump occurred, and it was called back.”
In a telephone interview Monday after London’s weekly press conference, Doug Rhoads, the ACC’s coordinator of football officiating, said he reviewed the play in question from multiple angles Sunday night and agreed with the call that was made on the field.
“I think it was defensive pass interference,” Rhoads said. “I think (Minnifield) arrived early.”
Rhoads said the play was “very close” and that it was “just a matter of timing.” He also said the contact between Minnifield and the William & Mary receiver occurred after the quarterback had released the pass.
“We don’t want to be nit-picking it, but the language of defensive pass interference is ‘an obvious intent to impede,’ and included in that is if (the cornerback) arrives early or plays through the (receiver’s) back,” Rhoads said.
In the end, the play proved inconsequential. Virginia won, 40-3.