OXFORD — A questionable call might've ended Ole Miss' chances at forcing overtime against Cal on Saturday.
On third down with less than 10 seconds remaining in an eight-point game, Ole Miss backup quarterback John Rhys Plumlee threw to receiver Elijah Moore down the goal line. Moore caught the pass and was ruled one yard short by the referees. With time ticking down, Plumlee rushed up to the line for a quarterback sneak to try to set up a game-tying two-point conversion attempt.
Plumlee was stopped short, ending the game. But a debate remains about whether the referees should've triggered a replay review on the Moore play on third down.
Ole Miss hurried to the line quickly to avoid time running out, so the referees didn't have much time to make the decision. But with fewer than two minutes left in the game, an automatic review could've happened.
When asked about the game's wild ending, Ole Miss coach Matt Luke had this to say:
"I thought at the very least that they're supposed to review every single play," Luke said. "At the very least. It should've been reviewed. But it's fourth down. You've got to get the next play call. But I thought at the very least it should've been buzzed and looked at. But we didn't have a timeout and we couldn't spike it so our only option was to do the quarterback sneak."
Regardless of the outcome, Ole Miss has to acknowledge a bright spot in the form of Plumlee. The freshman was electric across his two drives, going 7-of-7 with 82 yards through the air and rushing three times for 53 yards.
"I think it's a credit," Luke said about Plumlee's showing. "We've talked with him several times about him being prepared for his opportunity. His opportunity came and he made the best of it. I thought he ignited the sideline and the stadium."
No one had a better vantage point on if Moore was in the end zone than Moore. But the sophomore receiver didn't want to speak out of turn.
"The game's over with," Moore replied when a reporter asked him if he scored on that third down play. "It really doesn't even matter now. We've got Alabama next."
When asked about the referee's decision, Moore said 'the refs called what they see.' He said he was a little surprised that the play wasn't reviewed, but he preached moving on from the moment.
Saturday's game was refereed by officials from the Pac-12 rather than the SEC. Ole Miss coordinators Mike MacIntyre and Rich Rodriguez have plenty of experience dealing with Pac-12 refs, as both have been head coaches in the conference.
Rodriguez voiced a similar opinion about the situation as Luke did.
"I don't know what the protocol is, but you would think [they'd review the play] in a critical situation like that," Rodriguez said. "The clock's running, so we've got to run a play. They have the ability to stop it and review it, I think, especially in a critical situation. I don't know what the protocol is. I'm sure they're going to be talking about it. I've had people text me and say he was in, but I'll know more after I watch the film."
As for MacIntyre? The veteran coach chose to stay mum on the issue.
"I can't have any comments on this," MacIntyre said. "I've already been fined $10,000."
Ole Miss interim athletic director Keith Carter released a statement on the play via Twitter.
"We are extremely disappointed with the officiating at the end of the game and are expecting a full explanation from the Pac-12 regarding the call and subsequent non-review of the 3rd down play," the statement reads. "We feel strongly that the play should've been reviewed by the Pac-12 officials in the review booth. Even if the play didn't result in a touchdown, the spot of the ball on 4th down was questionable."
As for Corral's status, Luke said he injured his ribs. There is no update as to his health status as of yet.
Luke and Rodriguez also gave no indication of an upcoming quarterback controversy if Corral is healthy. Both lauded Plumlee for his performance and acknowledged that he might be able to get more reps with the first-teams in practice.
Rodriguez said he spoke with Corral after the game. Corral said his ribs are a little sore and he's having trouble breathing. But as of postgame, no x-rays or medical procedures have been performed yet.
Neither Corral nor Plumlee was available for comment after the game.
More: Ole Miss comes up 1 yard short, loses 28-20 to Cal
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.