Ivy League admits officiating error cost Harvard a game-winning score in Princeton's 5OT win

·2 min read

Harvard should have beaten Princeton on Saturday.

Princeton is officially recognized as the 2021 winner of the annual rivalry game after Jacob Birmelin caught a two-point conversion pass in the fifth overtime. But the Ivy League admitted Sunday afternoon that the game should have been over in the third overtime and Harvard should have won the game.

Harvard had the ball last in the third overtime and was set to win the game with a two-point conversion. That conversion happened as Jake Smith found Kym Wimberly for what appeared to be the game-winning score.

The play was reviewed and officials said that Princeton coach Bob Surace had called timeout before the snap. Sunday, the Ivy League said that officials made a "procedural error" and Surace's timeout should not have been granted retroactively. 

"In the third overtime, Harvard threw a pass for a successful two-point conversion. After the play, the replay booth stopped the game for an official review. While the review did determine that the Princeton head coach called for timeout before the ball was snapped, the officiating crew made a procedural error as a timeout can only be recognized and granted prior to the snap by an on-field official and is not reviewable. Therefore, the timeout should not have been granted and the play should have resulted in a successful two-point conversion."

"The outcome of the game will stand as a win for Princeton. The league office will address the error with the officials."

Both teams entered the game 5-0. 

The win was Princeton’s fourth consecutive victory in the series that dates back to 1877. The two teams did not play in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic that canceled all Ivy League fall sports.

Princeton leads the series 58-48-7, though we’re guessing there are some Harvard fans out there who will say the series record now deserves an asterisk.

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