Ball State won the MAC West title and clinched a spot in next week's conference title game with a 30-27 win over Western Michigan on Saturday that nearly went the other way because of a last-second play filled with laterals that appeared for a moment to give Western Michigan the victory.
Players and coaches from both sidelines ended up on the field, along with penalty flags during the wild sequence. Initially, it seemed that Ball State had recovered a botched lateral to secure the win. But then the ball squirted free and Western Michigan ran it in for the apparent game-winning touchdown as confusion took hold.
Eventually, however, it was clarified that one of more than a dozen Western Michigan laterals had in fact been an illegal forward pass. That ruling allowed the Cardinals to escape with an all-important victory in the most bizarre of ways.
The play conjured flashbacks to the legendary ending to the 1982 Cal-Stanford game in which Cal won on a last-second play filled with laterals even as members of the Stanford band filled the field. However, the 2020 version was not meant to be as the keen eye of the officiating crew spotted the illegal forward pass. It wasn't the first wild play involving laterals that was called back this season. Rutgers appeared to have scored on a similar play while trying to mount a comeback against Indiana earlier this season, only to have the score overturned upon review.