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Old Sat Jan 05, 2019, 03:54am
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Force play NFHS

This happened in a game this past season. A's ball on their own 5 yard line. The ball is fumbled and there is a scramble for the loose ball. The ball ends up in A's end zone where an A player falls on it. The R calls the crew in and asks "Did anyone see who touched it last?" I was a wing official and did not see who was the last to touch it before the ball went into the end zone. The U saw that a B player was the last to touch it before the ball went into the end zone. The R, without hesitation, promptly rules touchback, A's ball first and 10. I contended that it doesn't matter who touched it last, but if B's touching the ball was a new force. R was steadfast and said because B touched it last, that was the force that put it in the end zone. So does merely being the last to touch a fumbled loose ball that is grounded automatically places responsibility on the player who touched it as far as force is concerned?
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Old Sat Jan 05, 2019, 09:03am
CT1 CT1 is offline
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No.

The covering official has to rule on which team was responsible for the force that caused the ball to go into the EZ (A=safety, B=touchback). The presumption is that it was A’s fumble, unless there was no way the ball would have gone into the EZ without a new force being added.
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Old Sat Jan 05, 2019, 03:52pm
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Consider, A's ball 4th & 10, on their own 10. A's punt is blocked (choose either side of the EZ) by B and caroms (either into the EZ where A recovers or through and out of the EZ)

The "force" is A's punt, the responsibility for where the play ends (either scenario) is A's, the result for either is a Safety, B's touching (by blocking the kick) is a non-factor.
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