Northern Illinois knew it was up against a tough opponent as it prepared to face Florida State in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Day. What the Huskies didn't know is that it would have to be prepared to face some questionable officiating in the game.
In the fourth quarter, NIU ended up on the short end of a bad call by the officials when wide receiver Da’Ron Brown lost the football after being brought down by two FSU defenders. The play was ruled a fumble, which the Seminoles recovered, even though Brown's knees went down before the football came loose.
To top things off, the officials did use instant replay to review the call, which clearly shows Brown had not one, but both knees down on the ground before fumbling the football. However, despite the indisputable evidence, the officials still let the ruling on the field stand, allowing FSU to take over possession.
At the time, Northern Illinois was down 24-10, but had the ball on the FSU 38-yard line. Two plays after the fumble, Seminoles fullback Lonnie Pryor scored a 37 yard touchdown run, giving FSU a 31-10 lead and putting the game out of reach for good.
This bad call by the officials wasn't the reason NIU lost the game, but it certainly didn't help.
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