The USA Today Florida Network reported the initial appeal and then Monday's denial. FHSAA Director of Athletics Robbie Lindeman cited Bylaw 4.2.1, which states all game outcomes are final, in an email to Cocoa athletic director Mark Carstens.
"The outcome (i.e., winners and losers) of all interscholastic contests are final, and cannot be reversed, except where the rules of the sport permit or in the case where a winner must forfeit its victory or points," the Bylaw states.
The nature of the appeal to the Florida High School Athletic Association centered around what the school felt were officiating errors in the final minutes that kept the Tigers from being able to run the clock out on their 36-34 lead over the Raiders.
St. Thomas Aquinas, which trailed most of the night, kicked a 19-yard field goal with six seconds remaining to win the game.
"We're very disappointed," Carstens said in a Florida Today story
. "We understand the rule ... but at the end of the day, it hurts our coaches and players. They are the ones who don’t benefit, and our community. It’s a very sad day."
Among the errors, the paper reported, were:
• The clock failed to restart after an Aquinas first down with 2:16 remaining.
• After stopping the Raiders on fourth down, Cocoa attempted a kneel-down with 1:28 left. The clock was stopped at 1:27 even as quarterback Brady Hart
retreated a few steps to bleed clock before Aquinas called its final timeout.
• On second down, Hart was hit as he took a knee, sparking a scrum that led to an Aquinas personal foul. Yet, the clock did not run after the foul despite protests from the Cocoa coaching staff.
• The third-down snap started the clock at 1:27, which meant Cocoa couldn't run out the clock and would be forced to punt.
• On fourth down with Cocoa punting, Aquinas was initially flagged for 12 men on the field. But the flag was waved off as the Raiders returned the punt deep into Cocoa territory.
The deep return set up a 38-yard pass for the Raiders that gave them a first-and-goal with under 10 seconds left. They ran one more play before Francesco Pileggi
hit the game-winning field goal.