The Pac-12 conference has suspended a referee for one game following a "breakdown in officiating mechanics and communication" in which the wrong team was penalized during the third quarter of California's 33-20 win over Washington State at Memorial Coliseum in Berkeley, Calif.
The other members of the officiating crew have been downgraded, the conference announced in a press release on Sunday.
The conference acknowledged that the error occurred after Washington State's Traven Harris returned a kickoff following a Cal touchdown with 10:14 remaining in the third quarter. Harris returned the kickoff to the 50-yard line. During the play, officials penalized Washington State for a "hands to the face on receiving team number 15." That moved the ball back to the Cougars' 8-yard line. The officials penalized Washington State's Armauni Archie, a cornerback who wears No. 15. However, "there was an error in application of the penalty," the conference admitted, and the penalty should have been assessed to No. 15 of Cal, Ben Moos.
So, rather than have the ball at their own 8-yard line, Washington State should have had the ball at California's 35-yard line — a 57-yard difference. The Cougars did manage to score on the drive, with kicker Blake Mazza making a 35-yard field goal to trim Cal's lead to 20-14.
The victory helped Cal halt a four-game losing streak and improve to 5-4 on the season (2-4 in the Pac-12), moving to within a win of bowl eligibility with three games remaining. Washington State, meanwhile, fell to 4-5 overall and 1-5 in conference play.