Intramural Sports Flag Football Rules 2015-2016
Where a situation is not expressly covered in these rules, National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) Flag Football Rules will apply. A--refers to the offensive team that puts the ball in play during a down. B--refers to their opponents, the defensive team. K--refers to the kicking team. R--identifies the receiving team during a punt. (A1, B1, R1, and K1 are players of the respective teams.) Even though team possession may change during the down, each team retains the identity it had at the start of the down. Rule 1: The Game, Field, Players, and Equipment A. The Game: 1. The game shall be played between 2 teams of 7 players each. Five players are required to start the game and avoid a forfeit. 2. The co-rec game shall be played between 2 teams of 8 players, 4 men and 4 women. Other acceptable combinations are: a. 4 men and 3 women b. 4 women and 3 men c. 3 men and 3 women d. 4 men and 2 women e. 4 women and 2 men B. Equipment 1. Men shall use the regular size ball only. 2. The regular, intermediate, youth, or junior size football shall be used for Women’s and Corec games Rule 3: Periods, Time Factors, and Substitutions A. Game time: 1. Playing time shall be 4, 10 minutes periods. The intermission between the first and second periods and the third and fourth periods shall be no longer than one minute. The intermission between the second and third period (the first and second half) shall be five minutes. 2. Between the first and second period, and the third and fourth period, the teams will change ends, and the ball will be placed in an identical position in terms of relative position on the field towards the opposite goal line. 3. The clock will start on the snap to begin each half. It will run continuously for the first 18 minutes of each half unless it is stopped for a: a. Team time-out – starts on the snap. b. Referee’s time-out – starts on the ready for play. 4. Teams will be given 3 timeouts for a game. A maximum of two of the timeouts can be carried into the second half. 5. During the final two minutes of each half, the clock will be stopped for a(n): a. Clock starts on snap after these i. Incomplete legal or illegal forward pass ii. Out-of-bounds iii. Safety iv. Team time-out v. Touchdown (after the try) vi. Touchback vii. Team B is awarded a new series viii. Either team is awarded a new series following a legal punt ix. Team attempting to consume time illegally
b. Clock starts on ready for play after these i. Team attempting to conserve time illegally ii. Inadvertent whistle c. Dependent on Previous play i. First down ii. Penalty and administration iii. Team A is awarded a new series B. Tie Game 1. Games may end in a tie and no overtime will be played during the regular season. The following overtime rules will be used during the playoffs only: a. Coin Toss i. A coin toss will be used at the beginning of the overtime period to determine: 1) Offense 2) Defense 3) Direction ii. The visiting team captain will call the coin toss iii. All overtime periods are played towards the same goal line b. Tie Breaker i. Unless moved by penalty, each team will start 1st and goal from the 10 yard line ii. An overtime period consists of a series of 4 downs by each team iii. If the score is still tied after 1 period, play will proceed to any many periods as needed to determine a winner iv. If the 1st team which is awarded the ball scores, the opponent will still have a chance to win the game v. When the defense secures possession, the ball is dead and the series is over Rule 4: Ball in Play, Dead Ball, Out-of-Bounds A. Ball in play and dead ball: 1. A dead ball, after having been declared ready for play, becomes a live ball when it is snapped legally. 2. A live ball is declared dead when (not an all-inclusive list): a. It goes out-of-bounds; b. Any part of the runner other than a hand(s) or foot (feet) touches the ground; c. When a backward pass or fumble strikes the ground; d. When a runner has a flag belt legally removed by an opponent; e. When a runner is legally tagged with one hand between the shoulders and knees, including the hand and arm, by an opponent once the flag belt is no longer attached; f. When a muff of a punt strikes the ground; or g. When an official sounds his/her whistle inadvertently during a down or during a down in which the penalty for a foul is declined, when: i. The ball is in player possession – the team in possession may elect to put the ball in play where declared dead or replay the down; ii. The ball is loose from a fumble, backward pass, illegal kick, or illegal forward pass – the team in possession may elect to put the ball in play where possession was lost or replay the down; or iii. During a legal forward pass or punt – the ball is returned to the previous spot and the down is replayed. B. Out-of-bounds: 1. A ball in player possession is out-of-bounds when the runner or the ball touches anything, other than another player or game official, which is on or outside a sideline or end line. 2. A loose ball is out-of-bounds when it touches anything, including a player or game official, which is out-ofbounds. Rule 5: Series of Downs, Number of Down and Team Possession after Penalty A. The zone line-to-gain in any series shall be the zone in advance of the ball, unless distance has been lost due to penalty or failure to gain. In such case, the original zone in advance of the ball at the beginning of the series of downs is the zone line-to-gain. The most forward point of the ball shall be the determining factor.
B. A new series of downs shall be awarded when: 1. A team moves the ball into the next zone on a play free from penalty or the ball remains beyond the zone lineto-gain after enforcement of a live-ball penalty against the team; 2. A penalty against the opponents moves the ball into the next zone; 3. An accepted penalty against the opponents involves an automatic first down; or 4. Either team has obtained legal possession of a ball as a result of a penalty, punt, touchback, pass interception, or failure to gain the zone in advance of the ball.\ Rule 6: Kicking the Ball (Punting) A. Neither Team K nor R may advance beyond their respective scrimmage lines until the ball is punted. All scrimmage line rules regarding the snap, encroachment, false start, minimum line players, motion, and shift apply to the punt. B. After receiving the snap, the kicker must punt the ball immediately in a continuous motion. C. Once the ball is punted, any R player may block the kick. 1. If the blocked punt hits the ground, it is dead at that spot. 2. If the punt is blocked behind K’s scrimmage line and caught by any K player behind K’s scrimmage line, they may advance in attempt to gain a first down. D. R may advance the punt anywhere in the field of play or end zone. E. Any K player cannot punt the ball to himself/herself or any other K player. F. Team K may punt the ball only once per down. G. When a punt, which has crossed K’s scrimmage line, touches: 1. A player from either team and then hits the ground, the ball is dead and belongs to R; 2. An R player and then is caught in the air: a. By an R player, it can be advanced; or b. By a K player beyond K’s scrimmage line, the ball is dead, belongs to K, and a new series begins for K; or 3. Any K player, before it touches an R player, it is referred to as “first touching.” R may take the ball at the spot of first touching or may choose to have the ball put in play as determined by the action, which follows first touching. R loses the right to take the ball at the spot of first touching if R commits a foul anytime during the down after they touch the ball, or if the penalty for any foul committed during the down is accepted. H. When any punt touches anything while the punted ball is on or behind R’s goal line, it can be downed by R and is a touchback. 1. Once the ball crosses the plane of the goal line it is declared dead and a touchback is given, unless there is a spot of first touching I. While any punt is in flight beyond K’s scrimmage line, K shall not touch the ball or R, nor obstruct R’s path to the ball, unless the punt has been touched by R. K may catch, touch, muff, or bat a punt in flight beyond K’s scrimmage line if no R player is in position to catch the ball. J. Penalties: 1. Any violation of Rule 6.A., 6.B, or 6.G. will result in an illegal kicking penalty (10 yards). 2. Any violation of Rule 6.C. or 6.D. will result in an illegal procedure penalty (5 yards). 3. Any violation of Rule 6.K. will result in a kick catch interference penalty (R may decline the penalty, take the ball at the spot of the interference or enforce 10 yards from the spot of the foul and a first down). Rule 7: Snapping, Handing, and Passing the Ball A. Team A players are responsible for retrieving the ball after a down. B. A towel may be placed under the ball for the snap, regardless of the weather conditions. C. Prior to the snap: 1. Following the ready for play and until the snap, no player on defense may encroach, touch the ball, nor may any player contact opponents or in any other way interfere with them. 2. After the snapper has placed his/her hand(s) on the ball, it is encroachment for any player to break the plane of his/her scrimmage line. 3. No offensive player shall make a false start (includes simulating a charge or start of a play). The ball does not have to be snapped for a false start to occur.
4. The snap: a. The snapper, after assuming position for the snap and adjusting the ball, may neither move nor change the position of the ball in a manner simulating the beginning of a play until it is snapped. b. Both of the snapper’s feet must be behind his/her line of scrimmage until the snap. c. The snapper shall pass the ball back from its position on the ground with a quick and continuous motion of the hand(s). d. The ball must be snapped from next to the orange ball spotter. The ball spotter will be placed at the spot the ball was declared dead if between the inbounds lines, or on the inbounds line nearest the dead-ball spot if it becomes dead in a side zone or out-of-bounds. Position and action during the snap: 1. Anytime when or after the ball is marked ready for play, each Team A player must momentarily be at least 5 yards inbounds before the snap. 2. Team A must have at least four (five for co-rec) players on their scrimmage line at the snap. All other players must be behind an imaginary line drawn through the waist of the nearest line player. Any player in motion is not considered on the line. 3. Only one offensive player may be in motion at the snap. This motion may not be towards the opponent’s goal line. All other offensive players must remain stationary. 4. The snapper may not snap the ball to him/herself, and any player that receives the snap must be at least 2 yards behind Team A’s scrimmage line. 5. In a snap preceded by a huddle or shift, all offensive players must come to a complete stop and remain stationary in legal position for at least one full second before either the snap or before an offensive player can go in motion. Any player may hand the ball forward or backward at any time. Co-rec rule – Male runner: 1. Any team A male runner cannot advance the ball through Team A’s scrimmage line. There are no restrictions: a. During a run by a male runner once the ball has been touched beyond the Team A or K scrimmage line; b. During a run by a female runner; or c. After a change of team possession. Backward pass and fumble: 1. A runner may pass the ball backward or lose player possession by a fumble anytime except if intentionally thrown out-of-bounds to conserve time. 2. A backward pass or fumble in flight may be caught or intercepted by any other player inbounds. A player may not throw an untouched backward pass to him/herself. 3. Any backward pass in flight caught simultaneously by opponents is dead and that spot, and belongs to the team last in possession. 4. A backward pass or fumble that goes out-of-bounds behind a goal line is either a touchback or safety. Legal and illegal forward pass: 1. All players are eligible to touch or catch a pass. 2. During a scrimmage down and before team possession has changed a forward pass may be thrown provided the passer’s feet are behind the plane of Team A’s scrimmage line when the ball leaves the passer’s hand. Only one forward pass can be thrown per down. 3. A forward pass is illegal if: a. Thrown after team possession has changed during the down. b. Intentionally thrown to the ground or out-of-bounds to save loss of yardage (Exception: the player receiving the snap may immediately throw the ball into the ground to stop the clock). c. There is more than one forward pass per down. 4. Co-rec rule: a. The term “closed,” means a male player may not throw a legal forward pass completion to any other male player. The term “open” means any player can complete a legal forward pass to any other player. b. During the offensive team’s possession there may not be two consecutive legal forward pass completions from a male passer to a male receiver. This rule applies to the try. c. In the Co-rec Competitive League, when a team completes a legal forward pass from a male passer to a male receiver, the next legal forward pass completion is closed.
d. In the Co-rec Recreational League, when a team completes two consecutive legal forward passes from a male passer to a male receiver, the next legal forward pass completion is closed. e. To open the play, the next legal forward pass completion must involve either a female passer or female receiver for positive yards. There is no foul for a female receiver being tagged/deflagged behind the Team A scrimmage line. f. Any foul, whether accepted or declined, shall have no effect on whether the next legal forward pass completion is open or closed. g. If a female passer completes a forward pass to a male receiver behind the Team A scrimmage line on either an open or closed play and any Team A male runs beyond this scrimmage line, it is an illegal forward pass. A pass is counted as a completion or interception as long as the first part of the receiver to make contact with the ground after the catch, usually one foot, touches inbounds. If the receiver falls to the ground while making the catch, possession must be maintained throughout contacting the ground. Pass interference: 1. Forward pass interference: a. During a down in which a legal forward pass crosses Team A’s scrimmage line, contact which interferes with an eligible receiver who is beyond Team A’s scrimmage line is pass interference unless it occurs when two or more eligible receivers make a simultaneous and bona fide attempt to reach, catch, or bat a pass. b. Hindering an opponent’s vision by placing 1 or both hands in front of the opponent’s face or wave hand or arms near opponent’s face without making an attempt to catch, intercept or bat the ball is pass interference, even if no contact is made. 2. After the ball is snapped, and until the pass has been touched by any Team A player, there shall be no offensive pass interference beyond Team A’s scrimmage line. 3. After the pass is thrown and until the pass has been touched by any player, there shall be no defensive pass interference beyond Team A’s scrimmage line while the pass is in flight. 4. Action by Team B which is not a foul and which is obviously away from the direction of the pass is not defensive pass interference. 5. Whether a pass is catchable or uncatchable has no bearing on offensive or defensive forward pass interference. 6. Offensive pass interference – 10 yards from the previous spot (no loss of down). 7. Defensive pass interference – 10 yards from the previous spot (no automatic first down).
Rule 8: Scoring Plays and Touchback A. If a team is 19 or more points (25 or more for co-rec) ahead when or any time after the referee announces the two minute warning for the second half, the game is over. B. Touchdowns: 1. In co-rec games, if a female scores a touchdown, the point value is nine. If a female player throws a legal forward pass and a touchdown is scored by any Team A player, prior to a change of possession, the point value is nine. All other touchdowns are six points. 2. The player scoring the touchdown must raise his/her arms so the nearest official can deflag the player. If the official determines the flag belt has been illegally secured, the touchdown is disallowed, and the player is disqualified. C. The try: 1. An opportunity to score one point from the three-yard line, two points from the 10-yard line, or three points from the 20-yard line by running or passing only shall be granted the team scoring a touchdown. 2. Once a team captain makes a choice concerning the value of the try, he/she may change the decision only when a Team A or B charged time-out is taken. A team’s choice cannot be changed if a penalty should occur. 3. If Team B intercepts a pass or fumble during the try the play is blown dead. 4. If any team scores what would be a safety during the try, the awarded point value is one.
D. Momentum, safety, and touchback: 1. It is a safety when: a. A runner carries the ball from the field of play to or across his/her own goal line and it becomes dead there in his/her team’s possession. Exception: When a defensive player intercepts his/her opponent’s forward pass, fumble, backward pass, or a Team R player catches a punt between his/her five-yard line and the goal line and his/her original momentum carries him/her into the end zone where the ball is declared dead in his/her team’s possession behind the goal line, the ball belongs to the defensive team at the spot where possession was gained. This is known as the momentum rule. b. A player punts, passes, fumbles, snaps, muffs or bats a loose ball from the field of play to or across his/her own goal line and the ball subsequently becomes dead in his/her team’s possession. However, it does not apply to a legal forward pass that becomes incomplete. c. A player on offense commits any foul for which the penalty is accepted and measurement is from a spot in his/her end zone; or throws an illegal forward pass from his/her end zone and the penalty is declined in a situation which leaves him/her in possession at the spot of the illegal pass and with the ball having been forced into the end zone by the passing team. 2. It is a touchback when: a. When K’s punt breaks the plane of R’s goal line. b. The ball is out-of-bounds behind a goal line (except from an incomplete forward pass) when the ball becomes dead in possession of a player on, above, or behind the player’s own goal line, or when the ball becomes dead not in possession on, above, or behind the team’s own goal line, and the attacking team is responsible. Rule 9: Conduct of Players and Others A. Unsportsmanlike conduct: 1. No player or nonplayer shall commit noncontact acts during a period or intermission. Examples include, but are not limited to: a. Refusal to comply or abide by the request or decision of an official. b. Using words similar to the offensive audibles and quarterback cadence prior to the snap in an attempt to interfere with Team A’s signals or movements. c. Intentionally kicking the ball, other than during a punt. d. Leaving the field between downs to gain an advantage unless replaced or with permission of the referee. 2. When the ball becomes dead in possession of a player, he/she shall not: a. Intentionally kick the ball. b. Spike the ball into the ground. c. Throw the ball high into the air. 3. There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct by players, substitutes, coaches, or others subject to the rules. Examples include, but are not limited to: a. Attempting to influence a decision by an official. b. Disrespectfully addressing an official. c. Indicating objections to an official’s decision. d. Holding an unauthorized conference, or being on the field illegally. e. Using profanity, taunting, insulting or vulgar language or gestures. f. Intentionally contacting a game official physically during the game by persons subject to the rules. g. Fighting an opponent. h. Leaving the team area and entering the playing field during a fight. 4. The second unsportsmanlike foul by the same player or nonplayer results in disqualification. 5. Three unsportsmanlike fouls on a single team will result in a forfeit. 6. If a player is ejected from a game, he/she must leave the field area (defined as the entirety of Miller Fields). If the ejected player refuses to leave immediately, the referee has the authority to end the game by forfeit. B. No player, substitute, coach, or others subject to the rules shall use words or phrases or commit any act not in accordance with the spirit of fair play for the purposes of confusing the opponent. C. Personal fouls:
1. No player or nonplayer shall commit a personal foul. Personal fouls include, but are not limited to: a. Stripping or attempting to strip the ball from a runner. b. Contacting an opponent who is on the ground. c. Throwing the runner to the ground. d. Hurdling any other player. e. Contacting an opponent either before or after the ball is declared dead. f. Making contact of any nature with an opponent that is deemed unnecessary. g. Deliberately driving or running into a defensive player. h. Positioning himself/herself on the shoulders or body of a teammate or opponent to gain advantage. i. Tackling the runner. j. Fighting an opponent. 2. Defensive players must make a definite effort to avoid charging into a passer after it is clear the ball has been thrown forward legally. (NOTE: This includes contacting the arm of a passer after the ball is released.) No defensive player shall contact the passer who is standing still or fading back as he/she is considered out of the play after the pass. 3. Screen blocking: a. The offensive screen block shall take place without contact. The screen blocker shall have his/her hands and arms at his/her side or behind his/her back. Any use of the hands, arms, elbows, legs, or body to initiate contact during an offensive player’s screen block is illegal. A blocker may use his/her hand or arm to break a fall or retain his/her balance. A player must be on his/her feet before, during, and after screen blocking. b. A player who screen blocks shall not: i. Take a position closer than a normal step when behind a stationary opponent. ii. Make contact when assuming a position at the side or in front of a stationary opponent. iii. Take a position so close to a moving opponent that his/her opponent cannot avoid contact by stopping or changing direction. iv. After assuming his/her legal screening position move to maintain it, unless he/she moves in the same direction and path as his/her opponent. c. Defensive players must go around the offensive player’s screen block. The arms and hand cannot be used as a wedge to contact the opponent. The application of this rule depends entirely on the judgment of the official. Runner: 1. Flag belt removal: a. A player must have possession of the ball before they can be deflagged. b. When a runner loses his/her flag belt inadvertently, player continues, and the deflagging reverts to a onehand tag. c. The flag belt shall not be removed illegally (e.g., removal prior to possession, or well after possession has ended). 2. Runners shall not flag guard by using their hands, arms, or the ball to deny the opportunity for an opponent to pull or remove the flag. 3. A runner shall not charge into nor contact an opponent in his/her path nor attempt to run between two opponents or between an opponent and a sideline, unless the space is such as to provide a reasonable chance for him/her to go through without contact. If a runner in his/her progress has established a straight-line path, he/she may not be crowded out of that path, but if an opponent is able to legally establish a defensive position in that path, the runner must avoid contact by changing direction. Players shall not illegally bat a loose ball other than a pass or fumble in flight, with the following exceptions: 1. A backward pass in flight shall not be batted or throw forward by the passing team. 2. The kicking team may bat a grounded punt beyond the Team A scrimmage line toward their own goal line. No player shall intentionally kick a ball other than a punt. It is illegal participation: 1. To use a player, replaced player, or substitute in a substitution or pretended substitution to deceive opponents at or immediately before the snap. 2. If, prior to a change of possession, a Team A or K player goes out-of-bounds and returns during the down, unless blocked out by an opponent.