Course Content
Rule – 4 Ball in Play, Dead Ball, Out of Bounds
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Rule 11 – The Officials: Jurisdiction and Duties
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Appendix A Game-Official Guidelines for Serious On-Field Player Injuries
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Appendix B Lightning Policy
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Appendix C Concussions
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Appendix D Field Diagrams
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Appendix E Equipment: Additional Details
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Appendix F – Official Football Signals
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Appendix G Summary of Penalties
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Appendix H Accommodations for Student-Athletes with Disabilities
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Part II: Interpretations
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Table of Contents for Approved Rulings
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List of New and Modified Approved Rulings
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NCAA Rules
About Lesson

Legal Forward Pass

ARTICLE 1. Team A may make one forward pass during each scrimmage down before team possession changes, provided the pass is thrown from a point in or behind the neutral zone.

Illegal Forward Pass

ARTICLE 2. A forward pass is illegal if:

  1. It is thrown by a Team A player whose entire body is beyond the neutral zone when the ball is released.

 

  1. It is thrown by a Team B
  2. It is thrown after team possession has changed during the
  3. It is the second forward pass during the same
  4. It is thrown from in or behind the neutral zone after a ball carrier’s entire body and the ball have been beyond the neutral zone.

PENALTY [a-e]—Five yards from the spot of the foul; also loss of down if by Team A before team possession changes during a scrimmage down (A.R. 3-4-3-IV and A.R. 7-3-2-II) [S35 and S9].

  1. The passer to conserve time throws the ball directly to the ground (1) after the ball has already touched the ground; or (2) not immediately after controlling the ball.
  2. The passer to conserve time throws the ball forward into an area where there is no eligible Team A receiver (A.R. 7-3-2-II-VII).
  3. The passer to conserve yardage throws the ball forward into an area where there is no eligible Team A receiver (A.R. 7-3-2-I).

[Exception: It is not a foul if the passer is or has been outside the tackle box and throws the ball so that it crosses or lands beyond the neutral zone or neutral zone extended (Rule 2-19-3) (A.R. 7-3-2-VIII-X). This applies only to the player who controls the snap or the resulting backward pass and does not relinquish possession to another player before throwing the forward pass.]

PENALTY [f-h]—Loss of down at the spot of the foul [S36 and S9].

Eligibility To Touch Legal Forward Pass

ARTICLE 3. a. Eligibility rules apply during a down when a legal forward pass is thrown.

  1. All Team B players are eligible to touch or catch a
  2. When the ball is snapped, the following Team A players are eligible:
    1. Each lineman who is on the end of their scrimmage line and who is wearing a number other than 50 through 79.
    2. Each back wearing a number other than 50 through
  3. An eligible player loses their eligibility when the player goes out of (Rule 7-3-4) (A. R. 7-3-9-III)

Eligibility Lost by Going Out of Bounds

ARTICLE 4. No eligible offensive receiver who goes out of bounds and returns in bounds during a down shall touch a legal forward pass while in the field of play or end zones or while airborne until it has been touched by an opponent or official (A.R. 7-3-4-I, II and IV). [Exception: This does not apply to an originally eligible offensive player who immediately returns inbounds after going out of bounds due to contact by an opponent (A.R. 7-3-4-III)]. If the player touches the pass before returning in bounds, it is an incomplete pass (Rule 7-3-7) and not a foul for illegal touching.

PENALTY—Loss of down at the previous spot [S16 and S9].

Eligibility Gained or Regained

ARTICLE 5. When a Team B player or an official touches a legal forward pass, all players become eligible (A.R. 7-3-5-I).

 

Complete Pass

ARTICLE 6. Any forward pass is complete when caught by a player of the passing team who is inbounds, and the ball continues in play unless completed in the opponent’s end zone or the pass has been caught simultaneously by opposing players. If a forward pass is caught simultaneously by opposing players inbounds, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the passing team (Rules 2-4-3 and 2-4-4) (A.R. 2-4-3-III and A.R. 7-3-6-I-VIII).

Incomplete Pass

ARTICLE 7. a. Any forward pass is incomplete if the ball is out of bounds by rule (Rule 4-2-3) or if it touches the ground when not firmly controlled by a player. It also is incomplete when a player leaves their feet and receives the pass but first lands on or outside a boundary line, unless their progress has been stopped in the field of play or end zone (Rule 4-1-3-p) (A.R. 2-4-3-III and A.R. 7-3-7-I).

  1. When a legal forward pass is incomplete, the ball belongs to the passing team at the previous spot.
  2. When an illegal forward pass is incomplete, the ball belongs to the passing team at the spot of the pass (Exception: If Team B declines the penalty for an illegal pass thrown from the end zone, the ball shall next be put in play at the previous spot.) (A.R. 7-3-7-II-III).

Illegal Contact and Pass Interference

ARTICLE 8. a. During a down in which a legal forward pass crosses the neutral zone, illegal contact by Team A and Team B players is prohibited from the time the ball is snapped until it is touched by any player or an official (A.R. 7-3-8-II).

  1. Offensive pass interference is contact by a Team A player beyond the neutral zone that interferes with a Team B player during a legal forward pass play in which the forward pass crosses the neutral zone. It is the responsibility of the offensive player to avoid the opponents. It is not offensive pass interference (A.R. 7-3-8-IV, V, X, XV and XVI):
    1. When, after the snap, a Team A ineligible player immediately charges and contacts an opponent at a point not more than one yard beyond the neutral zone and maintains the contact for no more than three yards beyond the neutral zone. (A.R. 7-3-10-II)
    2. When two or more eligible players are making a simultaneous and bona fide attempt to reach, catch or bat the pass. Eligible players of either team have equal rights to the ball (A.R. 7-3-8-IX).
    3. When the pass is in flight and two or more eligible players are in the area where they might receive or intercept the pass and an offensive player in that area impedes an opponent, and the pass is not catchable.

PENALTY—15 yards from the previous spot [S33].

  1. Defensive pass interference is contact beyond the neutral zone by a Team B player whose intent to impede an eligible opponent is obvious and could prevent the opponent the opportunity of receiving a catchable forward pass. When in question, a legal forward pass is catchable. Defensive pass interference occurs only after a legal forward pass is thrown (A. R. 7-3-8- VII, VIII, XI and XII).

 

It is not defensive pass interference (A.R. 7-3-8-III and 7-3-9-III):

  1. When, after the snap, opposing players immediately charge and establish contact with opponents at a point that is within one yard beyond the neutral zone.
  2. When two or more eligible players are making a simultaneous and bona fide attempt to reach, catch or bat the pass. Eligible players of either team have equal rights to the ball (A.R. 7-3-8-IX).
  3. When a Team B player legally contacts an opponent before the pass is thrown (A.R. 7-3-8-III and X).
  4. When there is contact by a Team B player that otherwise would be pass interference during a down in which a Team A potential kicker, from a scrimmage kick formation, simulates a scrimmage kick by throwing the ball high and deep.

PENALTY—Team A’s ball at the spot of the foul, first down, if the foul occurs fewer than 15 yards beyond the previous spot. If the foul occurs 15 or more yards beyond the previous spot, Team A’s ball, first down, 15 yards from the previous spot [S33].

When the ball is snapped on or inside the Team B 17-yard line and outside the Team B two-yard line, and the spot of the foul is on or inside the two-yard line, the penalty from the previous spot shall place the ball at the two-yard line, first down (A.R. 7-3-8-XIV).

No penalty enforced from outside the two-yard line may place the ball inside the two-yard line (Exception: On the Try when the snap is on or inside the three-yard line, Rule 10-2- 5-b).

If the previous spot was on or inside the two-yard line, first down halfway between the previous spot and the goal line (Rule 10-2-6 Exception).

Pass Interference: Summary

ARTICLE 9. a. Either Team A or Team B legally may interfere with opponents behind the neutral zone.

  1. Players of either team legally may interfere beyond the neutral zone after the pass has been touched (A.R. 7-3-9-I).
  2. Defensive players legally may contact opponents who have crossed the neutral zone if the opponents are not in a position to receive a catchable forward pass.
    1. Those infractions that occur during a down in which a forward pass crosses the neutral zone are pass interference infractions only if the receiver had the opportunity to receive a catchable forward pass.
    2. Those infractions that occur during a down in which a forward pass does not cross the neutral zone are Rule 9-3-4 infractions and the penalty is enforced from the previous spot.
  3. Pass interference rules apply only during a down in which a legal forward pass crosses the neutral zone (Rules 2-19-3 and 7-3-8-a, b and c).
  4. Contact by Team B with an eligible receiver involving a personal foul that interferes with the reception of a catchable pass may be ruled either as

 

 

pass interference or as a personal foul with the 15-yard penalty enforced from the previous spot. Rule 7-3-8 is specific about contact during a pass. However, if the interference involves an act that ordinarily would result in disqualification or ejection, the fouling player is disqualified or ejected from the game.

  1. Physical contact is required to establish (A.R. 7-3-8-I)
  2. Each player has territorial rights, and incidental contact is ruled under “attempt to reach…the pass’’ in Rule 7-3-8. If opponents who are beyond the line collide while moving toward the pass, a foul by one or both players occurs only if intent to impede the opponent is obvious. It is pass interference only if a catchable forward pass is involved.
  3. Pass interference rules do not apply after the pass has been touched anywhere inbounds by an inbounds player or has touched an If an opponent is fouled, the penalty is for the foul and not pass interference (A.R. 7-3-9-I).
  4. After the pass has been touched, any player may execute a legal block during the remaining flight of the pass.
  5. Tackling or grasping a receiver or any other intentional contact before the receiver touches the pass is evidence that the tackler is disregarding the ball and is therefore illegal.
  6. Tackling or running into a receiver when a forward pass obviously is underthrown or overthrown is disregarding the ball and is This is not pass interference but a violation of Rule 9-1-12-a, which carries a penalty of 15 yards from the previous spot plus a first down. Flagrant offenders shall be disqualified or ejected.

Ineligible Receiver Downfield

ARTICLE 10. No originally ineligible receiver shall be or have been more than three yards beyond the neutral zone until a passer throws a legal forward pass that crosses the neutral zone. A player is in violation of this rule if any part of their body is beyond the three-yard limit. (Exception: If the passer is legally throwing the ball away and the ball lands near or beyond the sideline.) (A.R. 7-3-10-I and -III).

PENALTY—Five yards from the previous spot [S37].

Illegal Touching

ARTICLE 11. No originally ineligible player while inbounds may intentionally touch a legal forward pass until it has touched an opponent or an official (A.R. 5-2-3-I and A.R. 7-3-11-I-II).

PENALTY—Five yards from the previous spot [S16].

Team B Personal Foul During Legal Forward Pass Play

ARTICLE 12. Penalties for personal fouls by Team B during a completed legal forward pass play are enforced at the end of the last run when it ends beyond the neutral zone. If the pass is incomplete or intercepted, or if there is a change of team possession during the down, the penalty is enforced at the previous spot. (Rule 9-1 Penalty) (A. R. 7-3-12-I and 9-1-2-III)

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