|BYU coach credits Cougars, not call|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 08 September 2008 12:49|
The BYU coach expects the same from officials, even when it's a difficult call at a decisive point in a game.
Mendenhall on Monday reiterated his stance on the unsportsmanlike conduct call against Washington that forced a long extra point attempt the Cougars blocked to avoid overtime in a 28-27 win in Seattle on Saturday, saying the officials called the play by the rules.
``To say that it was just for granted, that the referee's call decided it - when he called it correctly - again it's unfortunate,'' Mendenhall said.
Mendenhall would have preferred to talk about the No. 18 Cougars hosting UCLA this week, but continued to answer questions about the penalty called on Washington quarterback Jake Locker with 2 seconds left in the game. Locker scored on a 3-yard run and tossed the ball in the air as he was swarmed by his teammates, who were an extra-point away from tying it after a 76-yard drive.
the point-after try was pushed back 15 yards. BYU defensive end Jan Jorgensen blocked the kick and the Cougars held on for the win, although they were called for unsportsmanlike conduct themselves for storming the field after the blocked kick.
``We do have rules for a reason,'' Mendenhall said. ``They are to teach principles of class and integrity. Sometimes young men in the heat of the moment get over-exuberant and the rules are in place to try to keep the game intact and hold on to what is most important in the game and that's the team element.
``Again, it's unfortunate that a call is being the focus rather than two teams playing their heart out and going down to the last play that did decide the game.''
The penalty tarnished the victory for BYU (2-0), which fell three spots in the AP poll on Sunday.
The Cougars tried to focus Monday on the blocked kick, which would have received much more credit had it not been preceded by the flag. They were content to take their first non-conference road win since 2002 and remain unbeaten as they began preparing for UCLA (1-0).
``What it really came down to is the blocked extra point. That's what happened and we won the game,'' linebacker David Nixon said. ``We got in there pretty good. That extra point was an all-out blitz from us. At the end of the day, I think it just came down to our will against their will and it was pretty apparent whose will won.''
UCLA was off last week and coach Rick Neuheisel saw highlights of the BYU game. Neuheisel, the former Washington coach, said he sympathized with the Huskies, but also saw Mendenhall's point about officials following the order to try to keep player celebrations in check.
``It's the rule,'' Neuheisel said. ``If you're going back to intent, then it's a judgment call. Therein lies the conflict. But I certainly don't fault the official if, as they said, it's not a judgment call. The ball goes high in the air, it is what it is.''
BYU escaped with a win on an improbable play for the third time in the last five games. The Cougars had to convert a fourth-and-18 to beat Utah last November and blocked a 28-yard field goal as time expired to hold off UCLA 17-16 in the Las Vegas Bowl in December. A year before, BYU beat Utah 33-31 on John Beck's 11-yard touchdown pass as time expired.
Mendenhall was terse when asked whether the Cougars were riding a lucky streak.
``I think that's up for interpretation. Probably four times in a row isn't luck,'' he said.