Cal running back Vic Enwere appeared to score a game-sealing touchdown with 1:22 left, but replays showed Enwere dropped the ball before crossing the goal line. Texas safety Dylan Haines picked up the ball a short time later, but not quickly enough, according to Big 12 referee Mike Defee.
After consulting with the replay official in the booth, it was ruled Haines' recovery did not meet the standard of an "immediate recovery," and possession was awarded to Cal at the 1-yard line. Cal was able to kneel down and run out the remaining time.
"The ruling on the field was a touchdown, which replay determined that there was a fumble at the 1-yard line," Defee said. "The ball rolled into the end zone, came to rest, Cal players ran past it, and many Texas players ran past it. I think it was 14 [Haines] that picked up the ball and handed the ball to the official."
It is a judgement call for the replay official, Defee said.
"He was ruling that there was a time element there that constituted no immediate recovery," Defee said. "Therefore, by rule, the ball goes back to the team that was last in possession at the 1-yard line."
A whistle was blown when the play was ruled a touchdown, but it was determined Texas still had the opportunity to recover the ball.
"I don't think that hurt us," Texas coach Charlie Strong said. "Number one, the ball shouldn't have gotten down there. We had too many opportunities before that play."
Had Texas been given possession, it still would have needed to march nearly the entire field in less than two minutes to tie the game.
"We learned a valuable lesson tonight," Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. "I don't think you'll ever see that happen again with any of our players."