1. First Downs
A team registers a first down when it crosses or touches one of the first down lines (zone lines-to-gain). Once the first down has been established, that team may not make another first down by crossing the same line during that series of downs.
2. Line of Scrimmage, Required Number of Players
Four (4) offensive players must be on the line of scrimmage at the snap. A player is deemed on the line of scrimmage when facing their opponent’s goal line with the line of their shoulders approximately parallel thereto and with their head or foot breaking the plane of the imaginary line drawn through the waistline of the snapper and parallel to the scrimmage line. At anytime at or after the ready for play signal, all offensive players must momentarily be at least 5 yards inbounds prior to the snap, unless covered (recognized) by a defensive player. There is no requirement for defensive players to line-up along the line or be at least 5 yards inbounds prior to the snap.
A fumble is dead at the point the ball touches the ground. The ball goes to the team who last had possession with the resulting loss of down. A ball that has not hit the ground can be recovered (in the air) and advanced by either team. This includes snaps by the center that are not caught by an offensive player (i.e. quarterback). Bad snaps are dead at the spot they hit the ground. For the purposes of timing, fumbles and bad snaps are considered running plays and the clock will not stop on
Any player may hand the ball forward or backward to any player anywhere on the field. During a handoff, the ball is in contact with a player at all times.
5. Forward Passes
A forward pass is LEGAL when:
A. The passer’s foot is behind the line of scrimmage when the ball leaves the hand.
B. The pass occurs before a change of possession (defense may not throw a forward pass following a fumble recovery or interception).
C. It is the first and only forward pass made during the down. Only one forward pass is permitted per down, regardless of whether is pass is completed beyond or behind the line of scrimmage.
Note: An offensive player may run through (across) the line of scrimmage, then run back behind the line of scrimmage and throw a forward pass OR toss the ball backward to another player who can then throw a forward pass as long as such pass abides by the provisions of this section.
6. Pass Receptions
All legal players are eligible to receive a pass. One foot must land in bounds before any part of the body lands in the out-of-bounds area for a legal pass reception. One knee is equivalent.
7. Interceptions in the End Zone
If a player intercepts the ball in the endzone, the player may return it out of the end zone. If the player is deflagged while running in the end zone, it is a touchback. Interceptions in the end zone during a PAT attempt or overtime immediately end the play (no returns).
8. Screen Blocking
The only type of blocking that is allowed is screen blocking. No contact is allowed between the offense and defense. Penalty: Personal foul, 10 yards.
A. The screen blocker must have their hands at their side or behind their back.
B. Any use of the hands, arms, legs or body to initiate contact is illegal.
C. The player must be on their feet before, during and after the screen block.
D. The blocker cannot take a position so close to a moving opponent that their opponent cannot avoid contact by stopping or changing direction. This position will vary from 1 to 2 steps depending on speed of the defensive player.
9. Retrieval of Ball after a Play
The offensive team must retrieve the ball after every play from scrimmage. The snapper will maintain control of the ball and bring the ball from the huddle to the line of scrimmage.
10. Punting the Ball
On fourth down, the referee will ask the offensive team captain to select if they wish to (1) punt or (2) try to reach the zone-line-to-gain (“go for it”). Once a decision is reached, the referee will announce the decision to the defense. If the offense declares to punt, then wants to change their decision, they may do so after a charged timeout or an accepted penalty in which the down is to be replayed.
A. All punts must be announced to the referee. There are no quick kicks. PENALTY: Illegal kicking, 10 yards from the previous spot.
B. The kicking team must have 4 players (5 in co-rec) on the line of scrimmage during a punt. PENALTY: Illegal procedure, 5 yards from the previous spot.
C. The kicker must catch and kick the ball immediately in one continuous motion. PENALTY: Illegal procedure, 5 yards from the previous spot.
D. Neither team may advance beyond their respective scrimmage line until the ball is kicked. PENALTY: Illegal procedure, 5 yards from the previous spot.
E. Kickers may not punt barefoot. PENALTY: Failure to wear proper equipment, 5 yards from the previous spot.
F. No player from the kicking team may interfere with a player from the receiving team that is in position or moving into a position to catch an airborne punt. The opportunity for kick catch interference ends when a punt hits the ground. PENALTY: Kick catch interference, 10 yards from the spot of the foul.
G. Punts that have not been touched by a player are NOT dead while bouncing on the ground. When a punt touches a player from either team and then hits the ground, it is dead at that spot and belongs to the receiving team. If a punt is muffed by the receiving team and caught in the air by the kicking team, it is dead at that spot and the kicking team retains possession, first and line-to-gain. If caught in the air by the receiving team, they may advance the ball.
H. When a punt breaks the plane of the receiving team’s goal line, it is a touchback. Punts may not be returned out of the endzone.
I. There are no fair catches. Fair catch signals that are used in an attempt to confuse the opponent shall be considered Unfair Acts. PENALTY: Unfair Act, 10 yards from spot of signal or catch (depending on which is a greater penalty for the receiving team).
11. Inadvertent Whistles
When an official sounds their whistle inadvertently:
A. During a legal pass, while a snap is in flight, or while a kick is in-flight, the down will be replayed.
B. When a player is in possession or during a backward pass, the team in possession at the time of the inadvertent whistle may choose either to accept the play where it is blown dead or to replay the down.
VII. EXPLANATION OF COMMON PENALTIES1. Delay of Game (dead ball foul, 5 yards from the previous spot)
The ball must be put in play properly and legally and any action or inaction by either team which tends to prevent this is illegal delay of game. This includes:
A. Interrupting the 25 second count for any reason, except for a time-out allowed by the referee.
B. Consuming more than 25 seconds in putting the ball in play after it is marked ready for play.
C. Deliberately advancing the ball after it has been declared dead.
2. Encroachment [Offsides] (dead ball foul, 5 yards from the previous spot)
Following the ready-to-play whistle and prior to the snap, no player on defense may encroach, touch the ball, or contact an opponent in any way. It is encroachment for any player to break their scrimmage line plane (yellow disk [defense], orange disk [offense]). Players do NOT have the opportunity to jump across the line and “get back” onside. It is a foul as soon as the player initially enters the neutral zone.
3. False Start (dead ball foul, 5 yards from the previous spot)
No offensive player shall simulate a charge or start of a play.
4. Illegal Formation (5 yards from the previous spot)
When there are less than four (4) offensive players on the line of scrimmage at the snap, it is a live ball illegal procedure penalty. The player who receives the snap must be at least 2 yards behind the offensive scrimmage line.
5. Illegal Batting (10 yards from the spot of the foul)
Players shall not bat a loose ball other than a pass or fumble in flight. Exception: A backward pass in flight may not be batted or thrown forward by the passing team.
6. Illegal Motion and Shift (5 yards from the previous spot)
Only one offense player may be in motion, but not in motion towards the opponent’s goal line (or line of scrimmage), at the time of the snap. After a huddle, all offensive players must come to a stop and remain stationary for 1 second before an offensive player may go in motion. If two or more players shift/go in motion simultaneously prior to the snap, both must come to a stop and reset prior to the snap.
7. Flag Guarding (10 yards from the spot of the foul & replay the down OR spot of the foul & loss of down)
The ball carrier shall not protect their flags by blocking with their arms or hands in order to deny the opponents the opportunity to remove them. This includes the quarterback/passer in possession of the ball. Note: Stiff arming is flag guarding. Running while holding the ball at hip-level, intentionally or unintentionally, may also be considered flag guarding.
8. Illegally Deflaging an Opponent (Personal foul, 10 yards)
An offensive player must have possession of the ball before they can be legally deflagged. Pulling or removing a flag belt from an offensive player without the ball is illegal. If the player is an eligible receiver, the violation may be considered pass interference.
9. Illegal Contact by the Ball Carrier (Personal foul, 10 yards from the spot of the foul)
The ball carrier must run to avoid tacklers. Deliberate charging of an opponent is against the rules. Officials will use the same judgment on charging and blocking by offensive and defensive players as in basketball. “Brushing contact” and unavoidable contact is not willful “charging.” The ball carrier may spin or jump around defenders to avoid deflagging; however, the ball carrier must remain in control of their body during such moves. If the foul is intentional or unsporting, then 10 more yards will be added to the penalty and the player will be disqualified.
10. Holding (10 yards from the end of the run [defense], 10 yards from the spot of the foul [offense])
Holding is grasping or encircling an opponent with the hand or arm in any way that impedes their movement. A defensive player may not hold, push, or knock the ball carrier down in an attempt to remove the flag. Similarly, an offensive player may not hold an opponent to prevent a deflagging.
11. Tripping (10 yards from the end of the run)
Tripping is using the lower leg or foot to obstruct an opponent (including the ball carrier) below the knees.
PENALTY: 10 yards from the end of the run.
12. Illegal Contact by the Defense & Tackling (10 yards from the end of the run)
If a defensive player reaches across the body of the ball carrier to pull the flag and contact is made, the responsibility of the contact lies with the defensive player. A runner shall not be thrown to the ground. There shall be no contact with an opponent who is on the ground. If a defensive player tackles the ball carrier, who in the opinion of the referee, would have scored except for being tackled, a touchdown shall be awarded. Deliberate tackles will result in disqualification.
13. Roughing the Passer (10 yards from previous spot, if incomplete pass thrown; 10 yards from end of run following completed pass)
Defensive players must make a definite effort to avoid charging into a passer. Contact with the passer shall be avoided except in cases where the defensive player is attempting to deflag the passer. Excessive contact is not permitted at all times. Contact with a thrown ball (hitting the ball then the passer in the same motion) does NOT affect this rule and roughing the passer may still be called. Roughing the passer does not apply on illegal forward passes; however, illegal contact may be called.
14. Illegal Forward Pass & Intentional Grounding (5 yards from the spot of the foul and loss of down)
A pass thrown in violation of the legal pass guidelines listed above is considered illegal. A pass that is intentionally thrown to the ground or out of bounds to avoid a loss of yardage is also illegal.
15. Offensive Pass Interference (10 yards from the previous spot)
Pass interference occurs when a player contacts another eligible receiver who is beyond the line of scrimmage. Restrictions exist for the offense from the time that the ball is snapped until it has been touched by a receiver.
16. Defensive Pass Interference (10 yards from the previous spot, automatic first down)
Restrictions exist for the defense from the time the pass is thrown until it has been touched by a receiver. Face guarding with no intent to catch, intercept, or bat the ball is also considered pass interference. Note: Contact or interference by the defense prior to when the pass is thrown is still considered illegal and will be penalized as a personal foul.
17. Other Personal Fouls (10 yards from the end of the run [defense], 10 yards from the spot of the foul [offense])
Any act prohibited hereunder or any other act of unnecessary roughness is a personal foul.
A. No player shall punch, strike, strip, steal, or attempt to steal the ball from the player who has possession.
B. There shall be no tripping or clipping.
C. There shall be no hurdling. Hurdling shall be interpreted as an attempt by the runner to jump with both feet or knees foremost over a player or between player. (You can jump or spin away from players to avoid having your flag pulled.)
18. Unsporting Conduct (all enforced from dead ball spot, 10 yards)
No player shall commit unsporting acts during play or intermission including:
A. Using words similar to offensive audibles or quarterback cadence prior to the snap in an effort to interfere with the offense’s signals or movements.
B. Intentionally kicking the ball (other than a punt)
C. Intentionally kicking an opponent or swinging an arm, hand or fist at any opposing player or official.
D. Disrespectfully addressing an official or indicating objections to an official’s decision.
E. Using profanity, taunting, insulting or vulgar language or gestures.
F. Fighting or leaving the sidelines and entering an alternation.
Two unsporting fouls by the same player or nonplayer results in disqualification. A player or nonplayer can be disqualified following the first unsporting foul.
X. CO-REC RULE MODIFICATIONS
1. Team Composition
Eight players, four men and four women, constitute a team. A team may have as few as six players, with the makeup of the team being 3 men and 3 women. A team can participate with seven players, with the composition being 4 men and 3 women or 3 men and 4 women. At no time shall the number of males over females exceed one.
Regular or intermediate size footballs may be used.
A. If a female scores a touchdown (runs across goal line or receives a pass in the endzone), the point value is 9.
B. If a female throws a legal forward pass in a play that results in a touchdown by any offensive player, the point value is 9.
C. All other touchdowns (by male players) score 6 points. Successful PATs count the same for both genders (1, 2, or 3).
4. Mercy Rule
If a team is leading by 25 points, or attains a lead of 25 points or more, in the final 2 minutes of the game, the game will end.
5. Number of Players on the Line of Scrimmage
Five (5) offensive players must be on the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap.
6. Run Plays / Action Before a Pass / Illegal Male Advancement
Male Runner (Ball Carrier) > A male runner cannot advance the ball through the line of scrimmage.
There are no restrictions during a run by a male runner once the ball has been touched by any player beyond the line of scrimmage.
There are no restrictions after a team change in possession.
Penalty: Illegal Male Advancement, 5 yards from previous spot.
Play 1: Male throws a forward pass to female beyond the line of scrimmage who then throws a backward pass to a male who is behind the line of scrimmage line. The male then runs for a 10 yard gain. Ruling: Legal Play.
Play 2: The play is “open”. Male throws a legal forward pass to a male who first touches the ball behind the scrimmage line, juggles it through the scrimmage line and then catches it beyond the scrimmage line. Ruling: Legal Play
Female Runner > There are no restrictions on any run by a female player at any time.
Male Restrictions In Effect > During the period between the snap and when a legal forward pass is thrown.
Male Restrictions in Effect > During the period between the snap and the time when the ball is legally possessed beyond the line of scrimmage by any player.
Male Restrictions End > When any player has caught a legal forward pass anywhere on the field. Complete a pass, eliminate the restrictions.
Male Restrictions End > When the ball has been legally possessed beyond the line of scrimmage by any player.
Restricted Play > Once a male runner has carried the ball across the line of scrimmage illegally, it is an Illegal Male Advancement foul, regardless of future gain or loss of yardage on the play.
PENALTY > The penalty for Illegal Male Advancement is 5 yards from the previous line of scrimmage.
6. Pass Plays / Open and Closed Status / Illegal Male Pass Reception
Announcement > Prior to each play, the game referee will announce both the down and either “open” or “closed” status for the upcoming play.
Open Status > The term “open” means any player can complete a legal forward pass to any other player.
Closed Status > The term “closed” means a male player may not complete a legal forward pass to any other male player.
Open to Closed > The status changes from “open” to “closed” on any legal male to male forward pass completion, regardless of a gain or loss of yardage on the play.
Closed to Open > The status changes from “closed” to “open” on any legal male to female, female to male, or female to female forward pass completion beyond the line of scrimmage, that results in positive yardage gain.
Restricted Play > Any male to male forward pass completion during a “closed” play is considered an Illegal Forward Pass
If a female passer completes a forward pass to a male receiver behind the line of scrimmage on either an “open” or “closed” play and any male runner advances beyond the line of scrimmage, it is an illegal forward pass.
PENALTY > The penalty for an Illegal Forward Pass is 5 yards from the previous line of scrimmage AND loss of down.
Play 1: The down is “closed”, a female throws a legal forward pass to a male behind the line of scrimmage who advances the ball beyond the line of scrimmage. Ruling: Illegal forward pass
Play 2: The down is “closed”, a female throws a legal forward pass to a male behind the line of scrimmage who is deflagged behind the line of scrimmage. Ruling: Legal Play, next down is still closed.
7. Open and Closed Status – Specifics
A. Initial Series Starts Open > Following any change of possession or at the start of a half, the first play for an offense’s series shall be open.
B. Laterals and Backwards Passes > There are no restrictions on any lateral or backward pass.
C. Only First Forward Pass Matters > Open and closed plays are determined by the action of a legal forward pass and catch. Therefore, throughout a play there may be multiple possessions by males or females but the status of the next play is determined by the initial pass and catch.
D. Positive Yardage Gain > The spot where the ball becomes dead by rule (before penalty enforcement) must be beyond the Team A scrimmage line.
E. Run Plays Have No Effect > Any run play or play that does not involve a legal forward pass has no effect on open/closed status.
F. Penalties Have No Effect > The enforcement of a penalty has no affect on open/closed status.
G. PAT Attempts > Open/closed status for a PAT attempt is determined by the previous play (that scored the TD) just like a normal down.
8. Co-Rec Restricted Plays Summary
1. Prior to the reception of a legal forward pass by any player, no male runner (ball carrier) can be the first player to advance the ball across the scrimmage line. Any play with this action, regardless of positive or negative yardage gain, is a foul.
2. On a “closed” pass play, a male passer may not complete a pass to a male receiver anywhere on the field. Any closed play with this action, regardless of positive or negative yardage gain, is a foul. PENALTY: In both cases, the penalty Illegal Forward Pass, 5 yards, loss of down.
9. Sample Plays
A. Play 1 > A male quarterback is rushed by a defender and scrambles ahead across the scrimmage line.
– (All plays) PENALTY: Illegal male advancement, 5 yards from the line of scrimmage.
B. Play 2 > A female quarterback is rushed by a defender and scrambles ahead across the scrimmage line.
– (All plays) NO penalty, legal play, no restrictions on a female player.
C. Play 3 > A male quarterback hands off to a male runner who runs ahead across the scrimmage line.
– (All plays) PENALTY: Illegal male advancement, 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. A male may never be the first player to carry ball across the line during a run play. Even if there was a loss of yardage on this play, this action is still a penalty.
D. Play 4 > A male quarterback scrambles across the line of scrimmage, runs back behind the line, then throws a legal forward pass to a female receiver who runs ahead across the scrimmage line.
– (All plays) PENALTY: Illegal male advancement, 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. A male may never be the first player to carry the ball across the line prior to the throwing of a legal forward pass.
E. Play 5 > A male quarterback throws to a male receiver behind the line who runs ahead across the scrimmage line.
– (Open status) NO penalty, legal open play because a legal forward pass was involved. Next play is CLOSED.
– (Closed status) PENALTY: Illegal Forward Pass, 5 yards from the line of scrimmage and loss of down. Run is legal, but male-to-male pass on closed play is a penalty. Next play remains CLOSED.
F. Play 6 > A female quarterback throws to a male receiver behind the line who runs ahead across the scrimmage line.
– (All plays) NO penalty, legal open and closed play because a legal forward pass was involved. If closed, the next play is OPEN if positive yards are gained.