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Old Mon Sep 11, 2006, 02:10am
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NCAA: Illegal kick or muff?

Had an interesting play during a D-III NCAA game on Saturday that I thought I'd post for comments.

Halfway through the 2nd qtr. of a very good ball game. Score is home team 3-0 (turned out to be the final score--each team had a chance to score more points but as usual both had the stupid DB PFs and UCs that cost them a lot of yards). Anyhow, I'm SJ in 6-man mechanics and we've got a punt play. Home team has 4/10 from the A-40. Our mechanic calls for the FJ to have 2/3 of the field and SJ as 1/3 with the FJ almost always taking the kick returner and the SJ has the blocks unless the ball is clearly to the SJ's side, in which he punches off to the FJ to indicate that he's taking the ball and returner.
So it's not a very long punt but very high and it's coming at me so I punch to the FJ to take the ball. It bounces at about the B-35 and by this time everyone from both teams have crowded in the area. The ball comes back down on its second bounce (still untouched by anyone) and as I'm coming up the sideline (I have ball/forward progress), a home team player touches it trying to down it and it hits his hand but he does not possess it and the ball is still bouncing/rolling around. I bag the illegal touching and continue to officiate while even more players converge. Then I see something through the mass of players--a home team player comes up to the ball and kind of bends down like he's going to recover/down it but the ball takes a funny hop right at him and it looks like he gently "soccer-style" kicks it as if to almost stop it with his foot more than kick it but it goes back about 2-3 yards towards B's GL where the home team finally downs it for good. I also bag the "kick" as another illegal touching because it was closer to A's GL and it's a better illegal touching spot for B. Right as I'm bagging it, a flag lands right next to my bag. Apparently my HL saw this pseudo-kick from about 15 yards away and clearly thought it was intentional and really wanted illegal kicking. The U, FJ and myself pulled him off of the call eventually because we thought that even if it was intentional, he was bending over and it only went 2-3 yards so we ruled it a muff and gave the ball to B at that spot, 1/10. After the game, I think the HL was still pissed because per the letter of the rule, it was an intentional and therefore illegal kick.
In retrospect, I can see his point but I also think that illegal kicking needs to be big and without question such as a punter kicking a ball that went over his head out of the back of his own EZ, etc. In this case, a 15 yard penalty seems awful steep in this situation. For what it's worth, this is the HL's first year working college ball.
Long story short, would you have called Illegal kicking with the info given here?

thanks
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Old Mon Sep 11, 2006, 02:28pm
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without a film or being there for sure, I'm will say no I would not have flagged this.
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Old Mon Sep 11, 2006, 02:42pm
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thanks for the response. Also, I did find a "When in question" it's an accidental touch instead of an illegal kick on page FR-48. Thanks again
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Old Mon Sep 11, 2006, 03:19pm
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I would not have flagged this either based on what you described.
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Old Mon Sep 11, 2006, 03:53pm
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REPLY: I'm also curious as to why the HL felt the need to flag this when you were right on top of the play. You said, "Right as I'm bagging it, a flag lands right next to my bag." Obviously you were there and saw the kick/touch. At the very least, if he really felt that you missed it, he should have given you a few seconds to make the call. Two principles to follow when making a call outside of your primary area of responsibility: (1) Give the covering official the opportunity to make the call; (2) Be absolutely sure that your partner was somehow unable to make the call.
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