For a few seconds, Duke kicker Ross Martin thought he had made a record-setting field goal to close out the first half of Thursday nights Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium.
Then he heard the whistle.
Martin had a 53-yard field goal called back because of a penalty committed by Cincinnati in the closing seconds of the half; his second attempt of 48 yards missed left to leave the Blue Devils trailing 17-16 at the half.
While Duke rallied in the second half to lead once, and Martin went on to hit a record-setting 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 34, the Bearcats scored twice in a 30-second span in the final minute for a 48-34 victory.
Obviously, it wasnt the outcome we wanted, said Martin, who hit two field goals, including a 33-yarder in the first quarter.
The rule that nullified Martins 53-yarder, which would have sent Duke (6-7) into the locker room with a 19-17 halftime lead, was a revision added just this season to the illegal substitution rule.
The revision lets the officiating crew stop the action whether or not the ball has been snapped when a team is found to have more than 11 players on the field either during or prior to the snap.
Cincinnati got whistled for having 12 players on the field just as Martins foot connected with the ball on what turned out to be a successful field goal. While the 5-yard penalty moved the Blue Devils closer and gave Martin another shot, it also gave the Bearcats an unofficial time-out in a bid to ice Martin.
When I first heard the whistle, I though it was actually a time-out, said Martin, whose previous career best was a 50-yarder against Georgia Tech this season. I thought they were trying to call it, but since they didnt have any time-outs I was kinda confused. Then I saw the flag and they said it was for illegal substitution.
I got my head back in the game at that moment and thought about making the next one. Thats something that should be reviewed, because it was like another time-out for a team.
The call, and subsequent miss on Martins second attempt, left Duke coach David Cutcliffe steaming.
Im not very pleased, thats the way you ice a kicker without a timeout, sending a player on late, Cutcliffe said during a halftime interview with ESPNs Jeannine Edwards. Im bothered by that, that we have a field goal good and that should be unsportsmanlike in my opinion, but thats my opinion.
Martin came back in the fourth quarter to finally get the Belk Bowl record with his 52-yarder, which surpassed the mark of 45 yards set in the second quarter by Cincinnatis Tony Miliano.
The guys were very supportive, at the half, said Martin, who was 20 of 23 in field-goal attempts this season, his first with the Blue Devils. Theyve been great teammates all year, and they just told me to go out and hit the next one. Theyve got complete faith in me.