Photo: Did South Carolina really get that first down against Georgia?

South Carolina iced the game on a fourth down quarterback sneak by Dylan Thompson. The original call on the field was a first down, and the officials upheld the original call.

But on second glance, was it really a first down?

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  • Yes it is a first down. It only has to go past the last link, not the pole. They said this during the broadcast.

    • Always have to start a controversy. They explained the ruling just like @Aubie said. Great game and a great win.

    • Actually if you read the NCAA rules both rods are to be 10 yards NO it is not the link its the ROD…NO FIRST DOWN…but they did miss 2 FGs I dont care I dont like either team but it was a botched call

      • The rule book that you posted said that the insides, not the outsides, of the two poles are to be exactly 10 feet apart. So, yes, the “last link” explanation given during the broadcast is accurate.

      • Line-to-Gain and Down Indicators
        ARTICLE 7. The official line-to-gain (yardage chain) and down indicators
        shall be operated approximately six feet outside the sideline except in stadiums
        where the total playing enclosure does not permit. These must be operated on
        the side of the field opposite the press box.
        a. The yardage chain shall join two rods not fewer than 5 feet high, the rods’
        inside edges being exactly 10 yards apart when the chain is fully extended

    • Line-to-Gain
      and Down Indicators
      ARTICLE 7. The official line-to-gain (yardage chain) and down indicators
      shall be operated approximately six feet outside the sideline except in stadiums
      where the total playing enclosure does not permit. These must be operated on
      the side of the field opposite the press box.
      The yardage chain
      shall join two rods not fewer than 5 feet high,THE RODS’
      INSIDE EDGES being exactly 10 yards apart when the chain is fully extended.

    • No, the rules do not mention anything about “the last link”. I’ve been a HS ref for 14 years and one of the first things I do when I arrive at every game is to check the working order of all equipment used during the game. With a tape measure I make sure the chains are exactly 360 inches from inside pole to pole. The ball MUST touch the leading inside edge of the pole for there to be a first down, PERIOD! The rule books for every level of football are ALL consistent with the distant between the rods and the manner in which that distance is to be interpreted by the referees.

      In short, the refs blew it and behind closed doors there will be some serious discussions with this crew that work that game. No doubt a memo will go out on Monday morning making sure that every referee understand that there is no such thing as “the last link” mentioned in the rule book.

    • Yep, shouldn’t be a controversy.

    • NCAA rule states that the distant from rod to rod is 10 yards, says nothing about the last link of a chain.

    • It has alsways had to go past the pole.

  • AubieTheAce18 is correct. The posting of this controversy demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the refereeing by the article writer. Mostly, I’m just happy that Jeff MacConaghy wasn’t the referee (nor the poster of this article). Nevertheless, Georgia is looking very hard for the missing link!

  • You can argue about the spot all night long. The bottom line is your kicker shanked two field goals, your defense is worse than South Carolina’s (and that’s saying alot), and Gurley had a mediocre game (by his standards) – thus you lost. Stop trying to blame the officials.

    • So you call 130 yards and a touchdown a mediocre performance??? You obviously know nothing about football then. Do you expect him to have 300 all purpose yards every week?? I

      • I wouldn’t call it mediocre, but if you have to put the game on his shoulders…. I would call it not enough

        • You obviously didn’t also see the 54yd touchdown called back for holding, and then the announcers admission that it wasn’t holding. The guy would have average over 20yds a carry with 2TDs if that hadn’t been called back. A bad day?

        • To madkins1868 the 54 yard touchdown called back was for obvious holding and the announcers said, “there is a clear hold.” Were you listening to UGA announcers? As much as i can’t stand Gary Danielson, that’s what he pointed out on replay and said. USC’s back up ran for the same yards/average as the Heisman candidate

        • To Rocketrodcub, a CLEAR hold. lol. So if a defensive lineman falls he must have been held.

  • South Carolina did not get the first down! I agree that Georgia’s defense did not play well and those two missed field goals were devastating; however I disagree with the statement that Gurley’s performance was not stellar. Gurley ran for over 100 yards with 1 TD and had a TD called back due to a phantom holding call. That should have been a W for the Dawgs.

    • What about the personal foul that have GA the first down when Gurley head butted the defender?

    • Once you start talking about what could have happened, there are a dozen little things that could have happened, and dozens more that we as spectators have no idea about. The refs in this game were clearly garbage, but Hutson Mason wasn’t great either. The UGA defense was even worse. The Gamecocks were selling out against Gurley all night and despite great play action calls from Bobo, Mason could not deliver a strike to save his life. That’s what lost the game. The bad calls just put them out of their misery!

  • The first down marker is traditionally two orange poles with a 10 yard chain connecting them (10 yards from the inside edge of one pole to the inside edge of the other pole).

    I have seen refs take out a card to see if the ball made it to the pole …. it was no first down. That being said it should not have come to that.

  • I don’t think it was a first down. Georgia lost the game because of our defense. Looked like the 09 game where Garcia picked the Defense apart. Pruitt never made the necessary adjustments to stop USC’s offense. 2 huge missed field goals a TD run called back for holding and 1st and goal on the 4, and you don’t hand off to Gurley and we get nothing out of it. That is why Georgia lost the game, not the “4th and inches” play/call. Even if Georgia gets it, they might of scored or had to settle for another field goal and who knows how any of that went. This lost is on the Defense and the play calling on the 1st and goal on the 4!
    Go Dawgs!

  • No it wasn’t a first down. I have a screen capture that shows even more clearly the space between the ball and post. They obviously let a little slack in the chain before making the decision. As bad as UGA played in defense and kicking its a shame a horrible call cost is the ability to see an exciting finish.

    • You should learn the rules of football.

      • What rules would those be? The one the CBS announcers clearly got wrong? Article 7 in the rule book clearly states “The yardage chain shall join two rods not fewer than 5 feet high, the rods inside edges being exactly 10 yards apart when the chain is fully extended.” So, was it a first down? The evidence says no.

  • Come on Jon Cooper, act like you know the rules of the game. FIRST DOWN!!!!

  • Ok lets settle this my brother is a collegiate referee… I am a hishschool referee, the #2 highschool ref in the south east.. the ruling is the ball must cross the pole… I wat hed it and in my opinion it is a blown call, it should have been uga ball with 122 remaining and 2 timeouts

  • So, Jon Cooper loses all credibility on this one! I’m obviously a Carolina fan however, The two missed personal fouls against Girley, the blocking below the waist, and the half the distance for trying to tackle the guy that intercepted the ball are all botched calls! The fact that UGA missed those two field goals are what lost this game! Also, cutting the clip short to make it seem like the announcer is saying that it is obviously not a first down when what he was really saying is that there was no way you could overturn the spot of the ball; You’re better than that! Good luck UGA! Hell of a game! GO GAMECOCKS!


  • Wow. I don’t think any one of the commenters took geometry. The only way to make the call is to be on the field… period!! There is absolutely no certainty that the camera is in perfect alignment with the yard marker!! It was halfway across the field. Being slightly off either direction either shows the 1st down or makes one believe it wasn’t. Leave the calling on the field. Unless the call was as blown as the one in our bowl game, there is no way to overrule the call on the field. And it’s another… Carolina… First Down!! Go Cocks!

  • Neither team has a defense worth a damn. MIZ!

  • Everyone keeps trying to split hairs on this. Let me start by saying that the rule refers to the INSIDE of the poles being exactly 10 yards apart. EXACTLY. Now to get technical about what was shown on tv, we do not know the precise spot of the camera when it was trying to capture the measuring on the field in relation to the ball and markers. So, if you are standing a foot behind or in front of an object your perception of it shall change. Without at least one other camera angle to show a different view then you will have to rely on the officiating crew to make the proper call. They were directly over top the whole time and viewed it as a first down according to the rules that they get paid to know and interpret. They called it a first down because nowhere in there does it say you have to get 10 yards plus a 1 millimeter. Only 10 yards. The only ones that know for sure are the refs. And I don’t think they are going to have to worry about losing sleep tonight. FIRST DOWN! GO GAMECOCKS!

  • The spot of the ball favored Georgia. Thompson clearly got farther than needed for the 1st down. Even with the bad spot the nose of the ball nudged a bit past the inside edge of the pole. So if you read this in the rule book : “The yardage chain shall join two rods not fewer than 5 feet high, the rods’ inside edges being exactly 10 yards apart when the chain is fully extended”, then you would have to conclude that South Carolina got the first down fair and square.

  • In my estimation, how the officials held the ball made the difference. Find a photo of the whole ball and you’ll see that the seam of the ball is not parallel to the ground. It’s tip ever so slightly forward. Test it for yourself. Place a ball on the floor with the end against a wall, place your hand on the top, slightly roll the ball left and right and see what happens. It’s a fraction of a fraction but the end of the ball moves toward or away from the wall.

  • Article 7 clearly states “inside edges of the poles”, NOT the last link, never listen to the announcer because they are just stating opinion. And if you look at the picture you can see the ref’s shoe through the space between the nose of the ball and the pole, so by the rules that is not a first down …. however, 2 things: unless you have a GPS tracker on both ends of a football, then it is impossible to see where the ball is, it’s a judgement call that the ref’s have to make, and it could have very easily been another foot forward or a foot back; this loss was on the defense and kicker, I will never blame a loss on ref’s or penalties, those are things to overcome, the defense didn’t stop the run, the secondary looked confused, and they didn’t pressure the QB enough, all of which they did well in the Clemson game, I dare say Clemson is every bit as good as, or better than, SCar. BOTTOM LINE : It was clearly a blown call.

    • You think Clemson is better because Clemson beats Carolina so often? Oh, wait that hasn’t happened in 5 years and it isn’t likely to happen this year, either. So I guess Clemson has to be better than Carolina because then the Bulldogs would be better than Carolina, too. The stats don’t lie. USC has won 4 out of the last 5 match ups with UGA and all five match ups with Clemson.

  • Play better ball and the game won’t be determined by an eyelash width!

    • This is the only comment worth responding to. You’re absolutely right. UGA had several opportunities to score and failed to convert. Three fg attempts inside the 20, turn one of those into a td and this spot is moot; two and the game would’ve been over in the 4th. The last possession down to the 4 yard line should’ve been our spark that won it. Instead, our offense faltered, their defense earned momentum, and a game we could’ve won we let get away. It never should’ve come down to a spot.

  • A much better question would be ” Did Florida get the 4th down play off in time?” And the answer is NO! They have it on replay, in slow mo…a good full second went by before the snap! Kentucky won that game.

  • I was at the game and it was obvious that the push of the line and Dylan Thompson’s sneak went about a yard. But the referees gave a very bad spot. The video shows that with forward progress he went about a yard. I was actually expecting the referees to actually come back after the challenge and move the ball forward which would have avoided this silly controversy. If you doubt, look at the video above and see the push and stretch by Dylan Thompson. No doubt it was a first down, the referees still owe the Gamecocks a yard on this play.

  • Given I am a fan of the Gamecocks so my opinion doesn’t really count on this issue but I say it was 100% a first down. First thing I did when I got home from the game was review my DVR of that play multiple times. The reason it was 100% a first down is because the refs spotted the ball a half a yard short. I cant post the video here but I’m sure it will be on youtube at some point. The ball was well past the first down marker on the sideline before our QB was down.

  • Actually, if you notice, the pole looks slanted away from the ball and not flat on the ground. This photo is not the best angle. If the refs were not honest, they could have pushed the pole just a little in the other direction (or straightened it up which maybe they did earlier) and then a bad spot would have been more clearly in USC’s favor. The spot may have been worse than the “pole call.”

  • Can’t blame the game on that, this coming from a Georgia fan. We missed several opportunities to score and blew it. Though there did happen to be several questionable calls by the refs.

  • Look, Dawgs. I was there, I saw the QB sneak and reviews on jumbotron. There is no doubt in my mind that the refs gave Dylan Thompson a terrible spot — bottom line. This should not have even been a controversy.

    • Absolutely. 2 bad spots by the refs. Wilds had a first down and even in the video above you can see Dylan’s knee come down on the 50 with his full body in front of him. The ball had to be at least a foot past the line and probably 2 feet. Even with the UGA favored spot the football gods came through by a millimeter. There’s plenty to complain about the refs had the game gone either way. They’re always bad it seems, but you can’t claim they cheated you here when they clearly helped – intentional or not.

  • That’s good for another South Carolina… FIRST DOWN

  • The picture chosen by this blogger shows a sliver (much less than 1/4 inch) between the end of the football and the metal pole. From the positioning of the other pole, to the straightness of the ball, to the angle of the camera shot, to the spot determined after the gain, the variability associated with an attempt to measure the gain so precisely as to confirm a 1/4 inch difference far surpasses that tiny line of grass.

    In short, a “benefit of the doubt” policy must be considered, and this will go with the offense.

  • YES , THANK YOU! They did mention it several times yet here we are over 4 weeks later talking about it! HELLO! The Gamecocks beat a good RANKED UGA & a nowRANKED ECU and are in actuality 6-8 plays from a 5-1 start & a top 10 ranking!