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Old Sat Aug 31, 2013, 12:06pm
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Muffed Punt

Hi guys, baseball official here with a football rules question.

I was watching a high school game last night and team A punted to team B. The punt was not a very good one and kind of nose dived into the turf and took a high bounce. The returner for team B attempted to go up and receive the bounce but it was just a bit too high and tipped off the top of his fingers. The ball was recovered by team A and ran in for a touchdown. This is where the discussion begins. I apologize for not knowing which official is which, but the official on the line of the home team (line judge?) stopped where the ball was touched while the official on the line of the visiting team (head linesman?) ran to the endzone and signaled touchdown. There was a lot of noise so I am unsure if there was ever a whistle, but almost immediately the officials came together and brought the ball back to where it was touched. The coach for team A had a 5 minute conversation (literally it was about 5 minutes, not an exaggeration) with the white hat (who was doing all the talking) and a few of the other officials. From reading the paper today, it seems as if they ruled you cannot advance a muffed punt. The coaches comments were that since the ball bounced, he felt as if the ball could be recovered and ran in for the touchdown, and he was also a bit confused on why the one ref signaled touchdown. So to the experts, what do you think of this.
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Old Sat Aug 31, 2013, 12:19pm
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The bounce on the ground doesn't change the status of a kick from scrimmage that's on the receiving team's side of the expanded neutral zone. The official who signaled TD either didn't know the rule or thought the player from B had gained possession by the top of his fingers, which if he had a foot on the ground is conceivable albeit unlikely, in which case the kick ends and the again-loose ball is a fumble or pass which could be caught & advanced. Otherwise the ruling of dead ball at the spot of recovery is correct.

However, when you wrote that the punt was not a very good one, could it be that it bounced to the kicking team's side of, or close to, the neutral zone? If it looked like that might've been the case, that could've been the point of disagreement between the officials. The official signaling TD might've thought so. If it was in or on the team A's side of the neutral zone, either side could recover & advance the ball.
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Old Sat Aug 31, 2013, 12:21pm
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6-2-4 . . . Any K player may catch or recover a scrimmage kick while it is
beyond the neutral zone or the expanded neutral zone, provided such kick has
been touched by a receiver who was clearly beyond the neutral zone at the time
of touching. Such touching is ignored if it is caused by K pushing or blocking R
into contact with the ball or it is caused by K legally batting or muffing the ball
into R. Such catch or recovery by K beyond the neutral zone causes the ball to
become dead. (See 6-5-6 EXCEPTION)

The ball should have been blown dead as soon as K gained possession.
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Old Sat Aug 31, 2013, 12:36pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tankmjg24 View Post
Hi guys, baseball official here with a football rules question.

I was watching a high school game last night and team A punted to team B. The punt was not a very good one and kind of nose dived into the turf and took a high bounce. The returner for team B attempted to go up and receive the bounce but it was just a bit too high and tipped off the top of his fingers. The ball was recovered by team A and ran in for a touchdown. This is where the discussion begins. I apologize for not knowing which official is which, but the official on the line of the home team (line judge?) stopped where the ball was touched while the official on the line of the visiting team (head linesman?) ran to the endzone and signaled touchdown. There was a lot of noise so I am unsure if there was ever a whistle, but almost immediately the officials came together and brought the ball back to where it was touched. The coach for team A had a 5 minute conversation (literally it was about 5 minutes, not an exaggeration) with the white hat (who was doing all the talking) and a few of the other officials. From reading the paper today, it seems as if they ruled you cannot advance a muffed punt. The coaches comments were that since the ball bounced, he felt as if the ball could be recovered and ran in for the touchdown, and he was also a bit confused on why the one ref signaled touchdown. So to the experts, what do you think of this.
A muffed punt can't be advanced. It makes no difference whether it's been grounded or muffed in flight.

The only exception is if the ball was recovered behind the defensive LOS. Then, K could advance the ball.

The LJ signaled Td because like all officials, he's not perfect and made a mistake.
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Old Sat Aug 31, 2013, 01:17pm
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The punt returner did have both feet on the ground when he made contact, but he never had secure possession of the ball. On the bounce, the football had cleared the neutral zone as well. From my limited football knowledge, I thought the ruling was correct, but I know that football rules can be complex at times, so I was uncertain what the exact rule was. Seems as if the coach was arguing the rule incorrectly (who would have thought that ) In regards to why the official signaled touchdown, almost immediately he ran back to the line judge and then the others joined. Looked like he could have got caught up in the play and then had that "ah hah" moment.
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Old Sat Aug 31, 2013, 02:11pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tankmjg24 View Post
On the bounce, the football had cleared the neutral zone as well.
Cleared it in which direction?
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Old Sat Aug 31, 2013, 06:35pm
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Quote:
The LJ signaled Td because like all officials, he's not perfect and made a mistake
Actually Tony, he said the LJ held his spot, the HL advanced with the run and signaled. I note he doesn't mention the LJ blowing his whistle or not.

It's easy to get caught up in the moment on these deals.
Crew got together and straightened it out .
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