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Chris Overton gets to finish his career on the field.

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics overturned a one-game suspension for St. Ambrose's single-season sack leader after Overton was ejected in the second quarter of last week's win over Trinity International.

The ruling came Tuesday afternoon after the Fighting Bees' staff submitted a video to the league with an appeal on Sunday. Overton will play Saturday when the Bees travel to face Olivet Nazarene.

"You consider the circumstances of him being a senior and his last game, it makes it all the more important they get this call and this ejection right," St. Ambrose head coach Mike Magistrelli said. "You don't want to see any player not have the opportunity to finish their career on the field.

"Certainly Chris was excited to get the word, as were we as a coaching staff because you knew it was the right thing, and you wanted to see the right thing done, and it was."

Overton, a senior from Springfield, Illinois, leads the nation with 14.5 sacks this season, despite missing most of last week after being ejected for punching in the second quarter. The ejection is an automatic one-game suspension. Overton said he was punching at the ball trying to force a fumble, which the video corroborated.

"There was a standing, more or less a scrum. The ball carrier was trying to fight for more yards and he was kind of punching, uppercutting at the football," Magistrelli said. "The nice thing was the sideline view is basically right behind where the official threw the flag so you're kind of getting the view of what the official saw.

"In live action, it's difficult to see exactly what happened. You're just seeing him punching to try and get the ball out."

The NAIA does not have instant replay, so there was no chance for the play to be reviewed at the time to reverse the ejection.

"It certainly puts officials in a tough spot because they're trying to make a call at live action and live speed," Magistrelli said. "It's certainly difficult, you lose the advantage of being able to, at the time, look at a replay like you can in Division I and in the NFL. For an official to make a call, you have to be 100 percent sure that the call you're making is in fact what happened.

"I'm just relieved, as Chris is, that it was on video, that you can officially see what happened."


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times