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Referee Hubert Owens removes a flag from the field in the second half between LSU and Mississippi State, Saturday, September 16, 2017, at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field in Starkville, Ms. Mississippi State defeated LSU 37-7.

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK

Quarterback Danny Etling and receiver DJ Chark said Monday they didn’t agree with the penalty called on Stephen Sullivan on the fifth play of Saturday’s 37-7 loss at Mississippi State, which wiped out Chark’s 67-yard TD grab from Etling.

Sullivan shot off the line of scrimmage and ran right into a Mississippi State defender as Chark raced down the sideline to pull in a perfectly-thrown pass from Etling that would have given LSU a 7-0 lead.

An official flagged Sullivan for pass interference, ruling it a pick that allowed Chark to race downfield. Chark said the penalty was “unfair” because Sullivan did the only thing he could do against a defender in man coverage who came up to bump him.

“I watched it maybe twice … I watched it (that night), I watched it on film,” Chark said. “I just haven’t watched it again because I felt like it was a terrible call, and I felt like you shouldn’t take that away from a team.

“If you’re not sure of what happened, I feel like you shouldn’t make a decision on it,” he added. “After watching the film, we definitely ran the play the way it was supposed to (be run). To have that taken back, that’s really changing the game.”

LSU requested a comment from the Southeastern Conference on the play. The program sent several plays into the league for comment, coach Ed Orgeron said Monday. 

LSU players aren't the only ones who disagreed with the call. ESPN color analyst Todd Blackledge, calling the game, insisted that the flag should not have been thrown. Live on air, he called the official's decision "horrible."

Chark said he didn’t fault Sullivan, who was mad about the penalty.

“I told him not to worry about it because there’s nothing he could’ve done,” Chark said. “That’s my teammate and he did his job to get me open, and we executed the play the way it was supposed to whether it counted or not. I told him, ‘Good job, do all you’re supposed to do and let’s just continue to play.’”

“I thought Stephen ran the right route,” Etling said. “He held up because the DB ran into him. If I’d thrown the ball to Stephen, it probably would have been (defensive) pass interference. It’s just a bad break.”

Advocate sportswriter Scott Rabalais contributed to this report.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter, @RossDellenger.