North Dakota State got a favorable fumble ruling on Friday. A fumble controversy emerged late in Friday’s FCS semifinal game between Incarnate Word and North Dakota State.

With a trip to the FCS National Championship Game on the line, the North Dakota State Bison and Incarnate Word Cardinals put on a classic semifinal showdown on Friday night. And, as is so often the case in tight games, the ending featured some controversy.

North Dakota State held a three-point lead with five minutes left but appeared to fumble the ball deep in its own territory. While the Bison tried to rush to the line before anyone could call for a review, play was stopped. It seemed, at that point, that Incarnate Word would clearly get the ball back. Only, that didn’t happen.

College football fans were largely miffed and upset about the ruling.

Warren Sharp: “absolute joke, that’s a fumble and Incarnate Word ball”

Trey Wallace: “Incarnate Word just got jobbed out of a fumble or the officials had a good look during the 5 second review.”

Joe Rexrode: “That’s absolutely a fumble and Word recovery. What is happening?”

Ross Tucker: “UIW just got totally screwed on a clear fumble. Legit HATE stuff like that. For both teams.”

Sam Khan Jr: “I’m sorry what? was that not a clear as day fumble by NDSU?”

The Daily Norseman: “Serious bullet dodged by NDSU there. Not sure how they didn’t call that a UIW fumble recovery.”

Adding to the controversy is that the fumble itself was not what was reviewed — it was the recovery. Even in that situation, it did appear as though the Cardinals should have had the ball. But, due to the sheer number of people blocking the different camera views, a fumble recovery is generally a lot harder to overturn than a fumble itself.

UIW had a chance to make the fumble controversy a footnote. While the Cardinals didn’t get the fumble recovery, they did get the ball back with enough time to either kick the tying field goal or score the winning touchdown. But North Dakota State came through with a big interception to seal the game.

With the win, North Dakota State advances to the FCS Championship Game, which will be played on Sunday, January 8. The Bison will play the winner of Saturday’s game between Montana State and South Dakota State.

[Photo Credit: ESPN2]

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