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Old Sat Sep 11, 2010, 01:40am
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Lightbulb Another Baffling "Trick" Play

I've been calling ball for several years now and am usually the UMP. I saw something last night that has got me thinking.

4th and almost a yard to go. QB lines up under center and takes the snap. As soon as the ball is "in" his hands, he pushes the ball towards the ground between the center's legs, thereby forcing a (a) incomplete pass? or (b) fumble? Since I saw the play in it's entirety I could tell that the QB didn't lose control of the football, it was an effort to try to advance the ball by fumbling.

Anyways, the center or left guard leapt forward and smothered the ball at the 1st down marker. Now I had a big decision to make. I think since I saw that it was intentional I could have called it an incomplete pass for a legal spike to the ground. However, I wasn't thinking that fast, and in retrospect it's probably a good thing because I don't know if I'll ever see the action so blatantly done again (I was in a lucky place at a lucky time at a lucky angle).

Here's the gist of my point: If indeed it was a fumble, according to the NFHS rulebook in 7-4-2 any member of the offense can recover a fumble, BUT in 7-4-3-b it states that the offense would lose the ball on a fourth down play if the fumble "becomes dead inbounds while no player is in possession". How would that be possible if a fumble is always considered a live ball while it remains inbounds? Could this be referring to a fumble like I mentioned in my story and we blow the ball dead and then mark our spot at (a) spot of the fumble, or (b) where the QB was when he fumbled, or (c) back at the previous line of scrimmage?

Anyways, since I didn't rule the ball incomplete we eventually ruled that the ball was dead when it hit the ground, change of possession. Then (this is funny), the coach asks us to measure to see if it was a first down. I said "It's a first down coach, but going the other way!" He wasn't happy.

Tell me what we did wrong (or right) and if there's solid precedent set for this type of play.

This is a long message and I'm sorry, but it's a complex issue.
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Old Sat Sep 11, 2010, 04:37am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gene2112 View Post
I've been calling ball for several years now and am usually the UMP. I saw something last night that has got me thinking.

4th and almost a yard to go. QB lines up under center and takes the snap. As soon as the ball is "in" his hands, he pushes the ball towards the ground between the center's legs, thereby forcing a (a) incomplete pass? or (b) fumble? Since I saw the play in it's entirety I could tell that the QB didn't lose control of the football, it was an effort to try to advance the ball by fumbling.

Anyways, the center or left guard leapt forward and smothered the ball at the 1st down marker. Now I had a big decision to make. I think since I saw that it was intentional I could have called it an incomplete pass for a legal spike to the ground. However, I wasn't thinking that fast, and in retrospect it's probably a good thing because I don't know if I'll ever see the action so blatantly done again (I was in a lucky place at a lucky time at a lucky angle).

Here's the gist of my point: If indeed it was a fumble, according to the NFHS rulebook in 7-4-2 any member of the offense can recover a fumble, BUT in 7-4-3-b it states that the offense would lose the ball on a fourth down play if the fumble "becomes dead inbounds while no player is in possession". How would that be possible if a fumble is always considered a live ball while it remains inbounds? Could this be referring to a fumble like I mentioned in my story and we blow the ball dead and then mark our spot at (a) spot of the fumble, or (b) where the QB was when he fumbled, or (c) back at the previous line of scrimmage?

Anyways, since I didn't rule the ball incomplete we eventually ruled that the ball was dead when it hit the ground, change of possession. Then (this is funny), the coach asks us to measure to see if it was a first down. I said "It's a first down coach, but going the other way!" He wasn't happy.

Tell me what we did wrong (or right) and if there's solid precedent set for this type of play.

This is a long message and I'm sorry, but it's a complex issue.
If the QB never lost control, and a lineman gathered it near the LTG, then by definition if the ball reaches the LTG, then don't you have a forward hand-off pass beyond the LS?
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Old Sat Sep 11, 2010, 06:58am
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Originally Posted by JugglingReferee View Post
If the QB never lost control, and a lineman gathered it near the LTG, then by definition if the ball reaches the LTG, then don't you have a forward hand-off pass beyond the LS?
That was my thought. For illegal forward handing they'll get 5 yards and LOD (7-3-2), so they won't do that again on 4th down!

If the ball was loose it wasn't illegal forward handing, but probably would be an illegal planned loose ball (7-2-8), which is 5 yards but no LOD.
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Old Sat Sep 11, 2010, 09:03pm
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Another Baffling "Trick" Play

Good points, felllas. I think it should have been enforced as an illegal planned loose ball.

Rule 7-2-8 states:
Any A player on his line of scrimmage may not advance a planned loose
ball in the vicinity of the snapper.

But, then on the other hand, their intention was to "push" the ball forward past the marker and then jump on it. Therefore that rule doesn't apply, right?

This concerns me. In other words, if they adjust this trick play into a
planned muff, we have not found any evidence in the rules book that
makes this play illegal.

My hunch is that it is not a play common to the game of football.

Please send me your thoughts/feedback.

Last edited by gene2112; Sat Sep 11, 2010 at 09:08pm.
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Old Sat Sep 11, 2010, 09:24pm
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Originally Posted by gene2112 View Post
Good points, felllas. I think it should have been enforced as an illegal planned loose ball.

Agreed.
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Old Sat Sep 11, 2010, 09:34pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gene2112 View Post

But, then on the other hand, their intention was to "push" the ball forward past the marker and then jump on it. Therefore that rule doesn't apply, right?

This concerns me. In other words, if they adjust this trick play into a
planned muff, we have not found any evidence in the rules book that
makes this play illegal.

My hunch is that it is not a play common to the game of football.

Please send me your thoughts/feedback.
Pushing the ball would be illegal batting.

If there is a planned loose ball and A ends up past the LOS, isn't that advancing a planned loose ball? It would be in my game.
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Old Sun Sep 12, 2010, 04:55pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gene2112 View Post
in 7-4-3-b it states that the offense would lose the ball on a fourth down play if the fumble "becomes dead inbounds while no player is in possession". How would that be possible if a fumble is always considered a live ball while it remains inbounds?
If it came to rest with nobody attempting to gain possession.

Let's get something straight about the play in question: Did the QB gain possession of the ball received via snap? If yes, incomplete forward pass. I don't see any case for its being intentional grounding unless very close to A's goal line. If not possessed by the QB, the snap has been batted illegally.
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Old Sun Sep 12, 2010, 09:13pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Goodman View Post
If not possessed by the QB, the snap has been batted illegally.
Why? Due to the fact that the muffed snap/fumble went forward?
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Old Mon Sep 13, 2010, 09:27am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gene2112 View Post
Why? Due to the fact that the muffed snap/fumble went forward?
The snap is, by definition, a backwards pass or handoff - and it's not a handoff in this case. The offense is not allowed to bat a backward pass forward; thus, illegal batting.
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