On a bizarre five-lateral play reminiscent of rugby, Kevin Moen scored a touchdown with no time left to give California a 25-20 victory over Stanford yesterday in Berkeley, Calif.
The controversial defeat cost Stanford an invitation to the Hall of Fame Bowl.
Mark Harmon kicked a 35-yard field goal with four seconds left to give Stanford a 20-19 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, the Cardinal tried a squib kick. Moen, a defensive back who also returns kicks, picked it up at the California 45 and ran it to the Stanford 48.
He lateralled to Richard Rodgers, who ran four yards and lateralled to Dwight Garner. Three tacklers seemingly had Garner down but the ball suddenly emerged from the pile. Rodgers grabbed it, ran laterally then lateralled to Mariet Ford.
Ford ran amid the Stanford band and scores of fans, somehow reaching the Stanford 25. As he was about to be tackled he lateralled to Moen, who ran through the crowd for the touchdown.
Referee Charles Moffett said: "Nobody (any of the officials) thought that anybody was down at any time."
"We simply won the game," Coach Paul Wiggin of Stanford said, fighting back tears. "It's tragic that a Cal-Stanford had to come down to this. We know we won the game."
John Elway, who passed his way into the NCAA record books by completing of 25 of 39 for 330 yards and two touchdowns, was even more angry.
"It's a farce," he said. "It's a big joke, and these referees are going to have to live with their decision. If one of the referees was indicating a man was down, it's up to him to admit he made a mistake. It's just not right."
"I wish someone had put a tuba over Moen's head," a member of the Stanford film crew said later.
Wiggin and his players argued that Garner, the third Cal player to handle the ball, had been stopped by tacklers before he got rid of the ball.
"I didn't see what happened," Coach Joe Kapp of California said. "It doesn't matter. It counted for six and we won the game."