Rule 3 - Periods, Time Factors and Substitutions
SECTION 4. Delays/Clock Tactics
Article 1 - Delaying the Start of a Half
a. Each team shall have its players on the field for the opening play at the scheduled time for the beginning of each half. When both teams refuse to enter the field first for the start of either half, the home team must be the first to enter.
PENALTY − 15 yards from the succeeding spot [S21: DSH].
b. Game management is responsible for clearing the field of play and end zones at the beginning of each half so the periods may start at the scheduled time. Bands, speeches, presentations, homecoming and similar activities are under the jurisdiction of game management and a prompt start of each half is mandatory.
PENALTY − 10 yards from the succeeding spot [S21: DSH].
(Exception: The referee may waive the penalty for circumstances beyond the control of the game management.)
Article 2 - Illegal Delay of the Game
a. The officials shall make the ball ready for play consistently throughout the game. The play clock will start its count-down from either 40 seconds or 25 seconds, by rule depending on circumstances. A foul for illegal delay occurs if the play clock is at :00 before the ball is put in play (Rule 3-2-4).
b. Illegal delay also includes:
1. Deliberately advancing the ball after it is dead.
2. When a team has expended its three timeouts and commits a Rule 1-4-5-c-2 or 3-3-4-e infraction.
3. When a team is not ready to play after an intermission between periods, after a score, after a radio/television/team timeout, or any time the referee orders the ball put in play. (A.R. 3-4-2:I)
4. Defensive verbal tactics that disconcert offensive signals (Rule 7-1-5-a-5).
5. Defensive actions designed to cause a false start (Rule 7-1-5-a-4).
6. Putting the ball in play before it is ready for play (Rule 4-1-4).
7. Sideline interference (Rule 9-2-5).
8. Action clearly designed to delay the officials from making the ball ready for play. (A.R. 3-4-2:II)
PENALTY − Dead-ball foul. Five yards from the succeeding spot [S7 and S21: DOG/DOD].
Article 3 - Unfair Clock Tactics
The referee has broad authority in the timing of the game. He shall order the game clock or play clock started or stopped whenever either team conserves or consumes playing time by tactics obviously unfair. This includes starting the game clock on the snap if the foul is by the team ahead in the score. As a guideline, referees should consider invoking this rule when the game clock is under five minutes of each half. If the game clock is stopped to complete a penalty for a foul by the team ahead in the score (or either team if the score is tied) inside the last two minutes of a half, it will start on the snap, at the option of the offended team. The game clock will start on the ready-for-play signal after Team A throws an illegal forward or backward pass to conserve time (Rule 3-3-2-e-14). (A.R. 3-4-3:I-V)
Article 4 - 10- second Runoff from Game Clock — Foul
a. With the game clock running and less than one minute remaining in either half, before a change of team possession if either team commits a foul that causes the clock to stop immediately, the referee will subtract 10 seconds from the game clock at the option of the offended team. The fouls that fall into this category include but are not limited to:
1. Any foul that prevents the snap (e.g. false start, encroachment, defensive offside by contact in the neutral zone, etc.); (A.R. 3-4-4:III)
2. Intentional grounding to stop the clock;
3. Incomplete illegal forward pass;
4. Backward pass thrown out of bounds to stop the clock;
5. Any other foul committed with the intent of stopping the clock.
The offended team may accept the yardage penalty and decline the 10-second runoff. If the yardage penalty is declined, the 10-second runoff is declined by rule.
b. 10-second runoff procedures are specified in Rule 3-4-5.
Article 5 - 10-second Runoff from Game Clock — Common Procedures
a. The 10-second rule only applies if the game clock is running when the event occurs and the event causes the game clock to stop.
b. If there is a 10-second runoff, the game clock will start on the referee’s signal. If there is no 10-second runoff, the game clock will start on the snap.
NOTE: This rule supersedes Rule 3-3-2-f (snap supersedes referee’s signal) but does not supersede Rule 3-3-2-g (running clock). (A.R. 3-3-2:VIII and IX)
c. If the team that caused the event has a team timeout remaining they may avoid the
10-second runoff by using a team timeout. In this case the game clock will start on the snap after the timeout.
d. The 10-second runoff does not apply when both teams are equally responsible for stopping the clock (e.g. offsetting fouls, or injured or helmet-off players from both teams). (A.R. 3-4-4:IV)