Pac-12 changes USC-Utah final score

Updated: September 12, 2011, 11:52 PM ET
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- The final score of USC's win over Utah at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum has officially been changed from 17-14 to 23-14 after the Pac-12 Conference and USC worked to review a game-ending penalty call, a school spokesperson said Saturday.

The game officials appeared to rule on the field that the Trojans' blocked kick returned for a touchdown didn't count and ended the game with the 17-14 final, but it was later revealed that there had been a miscommunication between the on-field officials and the Coliseum press box. Pac-12 officials then ruled roughly two hours after the game ended that it had counted all along and officially changed the score to 23-14.

USC was favored by eight or nine points for most of the week leading up to the game.

On the kick, a 41-yard attempt that would have tied the game with seconds left, USC left tackle Matt Kalil reached up and blocked Coleman Petersen's attempt and the ball bounced right into the hands of USC cornerback Torin Harris, who took it back for an apparent touchdown.

But most of USC's team ran onto the field during Harris' run and flags were thrown before he reached the end zone. After consultation, referee Jack Folliard said on the field that the penalty was "by rule" declined and the game was over.

It was not clear initially whether the call was the new celebration rule or unsportsmanlike conduct, but the reason for the score change was that unsportsmanlike conduct penalties can only be enforced on dead balls, allowing the touchdown to count.

"All unsportsmalike conduct fouls by substitutes are enforced as dead ball fouls," Pac-12 officiating consultant Mike Pereira said in a statement. "Since the game was over, the penalty could not be enforced and the referee stated it was declined by rule."

Harris received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a similar play last season and said he paid special attention to not doing the same thing in Saturday's game. The new NCAA-wide celebration rule is supposed to cancel out scores on plays where the scoring player celebrates before reaching the end zone, but that was ruled to not be the case on the USC-Utah play because Harris was not the offending player. A USC spokesperson said the updated ruling was a "collaborative effort between the Pac-12 and USC."

Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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