Bosco’s Corner: Bad calls seem to be on the rise

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It was not his team's play that forced him to do what he had never done before. In fact, while the scoreboard didn't show it, Springfield was going toe-to-toe with Bayside and simply coming out on the losing end of a close decision.

But had things progressed, the game might have been remembered for something other than a Bayside win over a Springfield team pulled off the field by its coach. Tempers were flaring that day, tempers of the Springfield players who played their hearts out but couldn't seem to get a break against their opponents or with the officials.

So when questionable calls began to mount late in the game, the Golden Eagles were legitimately upset. They reacted as 17-year-olds are prone to do, with emotion, and that emotion was not pleasant.

A few unsportsmanlike conduct penalties thrown into the mix and Schatt made a decision. Instead of watching his team disintegrate in front of his eyes, he took it off the field.

Immediately after the game Schatt lambasted the officials, saying he did what he did to protect his players.

"This was so absurd," he said. "I never ended a game in my life, but what's the sense of playing? It's not fair to the kids. We're supposed to be here to give kids a fair shake and give Bayside credit, they played well. But this was a crime."

In essence, what Schatt was saying was that his team did not beat Bayside, that the game's result was the right result, but that his players had the deck shuffled against them all day by the officials, something that seems to have become a pretty popular gripe these days.

But Schatt's actions were more than protest. Whether you agree with what he did or not, his pulling the team off the field defused the escalating tensions on the gridiron that day. What could have turned ugly turned out instead to be a premature ending of a football game, which is a far, far better thing.

Schatt's own frustration was evident by his post-game comments, for which he issued an apology later in the day. Because of the incident, Springfield Gardens forfeited its game last week against Campus Magnet.

Last weekend I attended the Holy Cross-Christ the King football game at St. John's University, a game pitting two fierce rivals against one another in a contest with massive post-season implications. I expected nothing short of a great football game, one that would be decided in the final minutes, one that featured high-powered offense and smothering defense. And that's exactly what I got.

Unfortunately, I also got to see perhaps two of the most glaring mistakes made by officials I have ever witnessed in my journalistic career.

The first big blunder came at the conclusion of the first quarter. Christ the King had the ball deep in its own end and ran off tackle for eight yards. The referees on the field seemed to confer for a moment, then waved off the play. Why, you ask? Because it was no longer the first quarter.

It seems the official time-keeper in the booth and the officials on the field never got together when the first quarter ended. The teams never switched sides of the field and more than a minute had transpired in the second quarter.

So what the officials decided to do was wave the last play off - an 8-yard Christ the King gain - put the clock back to 11 minutes and switch sides of the field.

But that was nothing compared to what happened next.

Later in the game, Holy Cross drove downfield, but could not get the ball into the end zone, opting instead to try for a field goal. From about 34 yards out, Michael Braunstein lined up the kick and booted, with more than enough distance.

From the vantage point of the press box we couldn't tell if it was good or not. I never saw an official signal the field goal good. Everyone in the box turned to one another asking the same question. Finally, after some debate on the field, the head official ran the ball out to the Cross 40 for the ensuing kickoff.

That was all the word we needed in the box. The PA announcer told the fans that the field goal was good, breaking a scoreless tie, 3-0.

Meanwhile the Christ the King bench was going ballistic. Players started kicking and throwing the yard markers onto the field, all in an uproar over the ruling on the field. Cross then kicked off and Christ the King was set to takeover.

Then something I've never seen before happened. The head official called both head coaches out to midfield and conferred with them for five to 10 minutes. I could tell by the reactions of the coaches what was coming.

"The field goal was no good," the head official said.

The officials took three points off the board after an additional play had been run, with no instant replay with which to refer. The bottom line - the ref did get the call right. Everyone who seemed to have a better view than me said the same thing, the field goal was no good. But in correcting a wrong, the officials only made it worse.

Holy Cross head coach Tom Pugh protested the game on the spot, though he wouldn't have to. His team did finally score, a touchdown with two minutes to play to seal the win. It was a great way to end a great game, marred by some horrid officiating, which, unfortunately, is an all-too-common occurrence lately.

Just ask Schatt.

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