In a press release on Saturday morning, the American Athletic Conference acknowledged an officiating error in ECU’s 34-30 loss to Tulsa on Friday night.

With less than two minutes left in the game and the Pirates up 30-27, Tulsa running back T.K. Wilkerson lost possession of the football following an 11-yard run and appeared to fumble. ECU recovered the football, setting them up, at least for a brief moment, to leave Tulsa with a victory.

After a replay, however, officials ruled that Wilkerson had regained possession of the football and was down, thus overturning the call of a fumble on the field and allowing the Golden Hurricane to retain possession.

“After reviewing the video of the play, the Conference has determined that the judgement of the replay official was incorrect,” the AAC’s statement read. “The ball carrier did not regain possession of the ball, and the ruling on the field awarding the ball to East Carolina should not have been overturned.”

Sandwiched between another pair of questionable calls, the would-be fumble would have been Jireh Wilson’s second forced fumble of the contest. It also would have put ECU in prime position to hold-off Tulsa and capture its second win of the 2020 season.

“The fumble that was ruled a fumble on the field, it must have been very obvious because usually you would not overturn that late in a ball game like that,” ECU head coach Mike Houston said postgame. “You would not overturn it unless it was just obvious that the arm was down before it came out.”

Following a fourth and six conversion by Tulsa on a pass that appeared to touch the ground before the receiver gained possession, the Golden Hurricane scored the eventual game-winning touchdown with 29 seconds remaining.

“The American Athletic Conference has conducted a review of the game and has communicated its findings to East Carolina and Tulsa,” the statement said.

Immediately after the game, ECU Athletic Director Jon Gilbert was in contact with the league office, according to Houston. There has been no word from the AAC regarding the accuracy of the call on the fourth down conversion pass.

“You can’t go back, you got to move forward,” Houston said. “We got to get ready for Tulane. That’s why you have instant replay.”

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