Sports notebook: Refs got it right

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 21, 2007

An unusual play occurred in the third quarter of the Franklin-Colonial Beach regional playoff game Friday night. Franklin quarterback Donzell Shearin was being chased down by two Colonial Beach defenders. As he was about to be sacked, a Franklin coach yelled out, &uot;Throw it.&uot; Shearin threw the ball, but he threw it right into the hands of the Drifters’ Tim Wilson. Wilson ran the ball down field and then fumbled. The ball was recovered by Franklin.

On the play, a flag was also thrown. The officials called intentional grounding on Shearin. The Broncos retained the ball but were pushed back five yards and also suffered a loss of down on the call. Franklin head coach Darren Parker argued the call vehemently. He said, &uot;How can it be intentional grounding if the ball was intercepted?&uot; At the time, I agreed; that seemed like a really bad call.

It turns out that the refs made the right call. According to Jim Pacheco, an officiating correspondent for WRAL in Raleigh, N.C., because Shearin threw the ball to an area where there was not a Franklin receiver, there should have been an intentional grounding call, no matter whether the ball was intercepted. Normally, when that happens and an opposing player intercepts the ball, then the other team declines the penalty and takes the ball. What made the play unusual is that Wilson fumbled after the interception and Franklin recovered. So, the final outcome, which was the correct outcome, was that the Broncos retained possession but lost a down and lost five yards.

Rules for intentional grounding are different in high school than they are at the professional level. In the NFL, a quarterback can throw the ball away if he is flushed out of the pocket. That is not the case in high school football.

I give credit to the officials. I have never seen a play like that before and probably would never have known how to call it.

* The fans and players at Colonial Beach were very interested in the Surry County-West Point score on Friday night. Surry was the top seed in the Group A Region A Division 1 playoff, while West Point was the fourth seed. If West Point had beaten Surry, Colonial Beach (No. 2 seed) would have been playing home Friday night. Instead, the Drifters will have to travel to Surry for the Saturday matchup at 1 p.m.

Personally, I think Colonial Beach has a good shot of beating Surry, at least if you look at the head-to-head competition with West Point. Surry beat West Point at home on Friday night by one point. The Drifters pounded West Point 47-6 the previous week in the regular-season finale.

* This could be an exciting season for the Chowan University men’s basketball team. Although the Hawks are young, Chowan held tough against Queens University, an NCAA Division II playoff team last spring. Chowan surrendered at the buzzer last Thursday to a team that won 20 games last season.

As for the Chowan football program joining the CIAA, it looks like the basketball team may not be that far behind. In a 26-game schedule this season, the Hawks have five games against CIAA schools, including two with perennial power Virginia Union. The Hawks will also play North Carolina Central University, which is making the transition from the CIAA to NCAA Division I and the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.