Trailing 22-21, Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorston fumbled on the goal-line before crossing the plane and Western Michigan was given the ball on a touchback. But, the way the turnover played out wasn’t that simple.
Thorston fumbled the ball, and began rolling out of bounds before Western Michigan defensive back Davonte Ginwright threw it back in bounds.
Oh my god, Northwestern. This was ruled a touchback and Western Michigan ball. What an odd play. pic.twitter.com/Btlj9djucW
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) September 3, 2016
Wildcat wide receiver Matt Alviti recovered the ball in the end zone, however the referees ruled Ginwright was out of bounds when throwing the ball back in bounds. The play was reviewed, but there was not enough evidence to overturn the call on the field.
"(Refs) said it was a fumble that went into the endzone, and that the defensive player had possession" — Fitz
— Daily NU Sports (@DailyNU_Sports) September 3, 2016
The play ended up being the game winning play for the Broncos, as they took the touchback and proceeded to run out the clock.
Northwestern running back Justin Jackson scored three touchdowns and had 115 yards in the second half to keep the Wildcats in the game near the end. But it wasn’t enough, as Western Michigan punched in the game winning score on a fourth down, one yard plunge on Northwestern’s goal-line which led to the unusual goal line play.
The season opening loss to Western Michigan, a MAC team, comes a year after the Wildcats stunned and upset Stanford in the 2015 season opener.