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Football Rules Quiz as the 2020 season is around the corner

09/16/2020, 1:30pm CDT
By B.J. Ligocki, Special to WSN

"Behind the Stripes" is written by veteran WIAA official B.J. Ligocki, an active message board poster who has helped many people on the forum with rules questions and clarifications over the years. The purpose of this feature is to help educate readers on any rules changes, clarify procedures and rules, provide case studies and examples, and answer any questions people may have on officiating or rules.

Feel free to email any rules or officiating questions you have at flagthrow3r@gmail.com for inclusion in future articles.

B.J. Ligocki:  Football (Master Level - 13 yrs - State Championship); Basketball (Level 5 -21 years - Regional); Baseball/Softball (Level 5 - 21 years - Regional)

Each year we cover the rules changes for the upcoming season. The NFHS did not change many rules for the 2020 football season and they are covered here in the first four questions. The remaining questions are differences in NCAA and NFL and a couple other tricky rulings.

Feel free to ponder these in your head, or respond in the comments below on how you think each situation should be handled according to the rules. We'll follow up with an article that lays out the correct answers on Friday. Good luck!

Answers have been added below; how did you do? 

High School Football Rules Quiz

    1. Team A is winning 21-20 and has the ball 4 & 20 at their own 1 yd line. It is the 4th quarter with 30 seconds left. Team B is out of time outs and the clock was stopped after a running play that ended in bounds for an injured team B player. What should the play clock be set to after the clock is started?

Answer: A new rule this year sets the play clock to 40 seconds after the clock is stopped for an injury to a defender. There is no run-off rule like in NCAA or NFL. In this situation, the play clock would be 40 seconds and Team A could run out the clock without running another play. This exact situation is why the rule was changed. The defense could gain an advantage by faking an injury late in the game to save 15 seconds.

    2. Team A just completed a long pass with 0:12 left in the 2nd quarter to the team B 10 yd. line for a 1st down. They rush up to the line and get set in a legal formation with the QB in the shotgun. The ball is snapped, cleanly caught by the QB, and immediately spiked. Is this a legal play?

Answer: Yes, this is a legal play. The exception that allows a QB to spike the ball to conserve time was expanded to include the shotgun position.

    3. Team A just completed a long pass with 0:12 left in the 2nd quarter to the team B 10 yd. line for a 1st down. They rush up to the line and get set in a legal formation with the QB in the shotgun. The ball is snapped and bounces once before the QB picks it up off the ground and immediately spikes it.  Is this a legal play?

Answer: No, this is not legal. The snap needs to be clean in order to spike the ball legally. However, since there is no run off for stopping the clock illegally, the clock would still be stopped after the penalty (illegal forward pass, 5 yds and loss of down from the spot of the foul).

    4. Team A at 50 yd. line 4th & 4. While both teams are in formation, the Team B defensive tackle mimics the QB cadence and an offensive lineman false starts. What is the down and distance on the next play?

Answer: Last year this would have been a 15 yd. unsportsmanlike penalty. It was changed this year to a 5 yd. penalty. This play would be A1/10 at B45.

    5. Team A 1st and 10 at their own 20 yd. line. A10 passes to A88 for a 15 yd. gain but holding is called on A77 at the A18 yd. line.  What is the down and distance on the next play?

Answer: Penalties by the offense behind the basic spot are enforced from the spot of the foul in high school.  This play would be 1/21 at the A9 (enforced half the distance from the 18).

    6. Team A 1st and 10 at their own 20 yd. line.  Under pressure, QB A10 rolls out to the sideline and throws the ball away out of bounds to the A30 while standing at the A15.  What is the down and distance on the next play?

Answer: There is no exception for legally throwing the ball away in high school. It does not matter if the QB is out of the pocket, the ball must be thrown to an eligible receiver. This play would result in intentional grounding, A 2/20 at A10.

    7. Team A 3rd and goal at the B8 yd. line.  A pass into the endzone is incomplete but defensive pass interference is called against B30 in the end zone.  What is the down and distance on the next play?

Answer: There is no automatic 1st down for pass interference, nor is the ball placed at the 1 or 2 yd line in high school. The next play here is 3/goal at the B4.

    8. Team A kicks off with 0:05 left in the 2nd quarter. Team B runs the ball all the way back to the A5 yd line. After the play an A player hits the returner late out of bounds. The clock reads 0:00. How is this penalty enforced?

Answer: Unfortunately for the return team, they do not get to extend the period. The foul occurred after the play and therefore after the 1st half ended. It will be enforced on the kickoff of the 2nd half.

    9. Team A 1st & 10 at their own 20 yd. line.  Team A only has 10 players on the field, 4 backs and 6 players on the line of scrimmage.  They score a TD on the play. What is the down and distance on the next play?

Answer: As of last year, this is a legal play. The rule was changed last year to make the requirement no more than 4 backs instead of requiring 7 players on the line of scrimmage. The next play will be the try for extra point.

    10. Team A 1st & goal at B 10 yd. line. A88 catches a TD pass and defensive pass interference is called on B25. How is that penalty handled?

Answer: Penalties on scoring plays are not automatically declined in high school. This foul can be enforced on the try or kickoff.

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