- A regulation game consists of two periods, 20-minutes each.
- During the last two minutes of the second half of the game, the clock stops for time-outs, after a first down, after a penalty, after an incomplete pass, and after a play ends out-of-bounds.
- After a time-out, incomplete pass or out-of-bounds play, the clock will restart on the next snap.
- After a penalty or first down, the clock will restart once the ball is spotted by the referee and the 'ready for play' signal is given.
- Each team is allowed two, one-minute time-outs per half of play.
- The team with the most points at the end of duration wins the game. There is no overtime for regular season games. Games ending with a tied score will be recorded as such.
- The act of 'kneeling' or voluntarily surrendering offensive downs in succession at the end of the game is only permitted by the offensive team and does not end the game if the game clock does not otherwise expire naturally or via the use of timeouts by the defensive team. If the clock does not expire after up to four downs are surrendered, the ball is turned over on downs and the opposing team is awarded possession.
- In order to foster good sportsmanship a community of mutual respect, if both teams agree to end the game with the offensive team 'kneeling out' due to a lopsided score, dangerous field conditions, or an otherwise mutually agreed upon premise that is in the best interested of the league and its members, it may only be done in the final five (5) minutes of the game and cannot be done with the intent to influence standings or playoff seeding.
- A minimum of six players per team must be present and available to play at the start of a game. A team presenting less than six players at game time will be forced to forfeit the game.*
- * A five-minute 'grace period' after the scheduled start time of a game has passed will be granted to any team that is awaiting a 6th player who is believed to be "in route" to the game. After the five-minute grace period, as determined by the game referee(s), the team with less than six players must forfeit the game.
- If at any time during a game, a team is unable to field six players due to injury, ejection, player departure or any other reason, the team is forced to forfeit the game immediately.
- If at any point a game has been declared a forfeit by virtue of any of the reasons stated above, the resulting score of the game will be 0 - 0, with the forfeiting team receiving a 'loss' on their season record and the opposing team receiving a 'win' on their season record. This game is reflected in the standings, but the score total is not calculated into any point totals, averages or otherwise and may not be included in any tie-break calculation.
- If neither team is capable of fielding six players at the scheduled start of the game or during a game due to ejection, player departure, or any other reason, the game will be declared a 'double forfeit' The resulting score will be 0 - 0, with BOTH teams receiving a loss on their season record. The score total is not calculated into any point totals, averages or otherwise and may not be included in any tie-breaking calculation.
- EXCEPTION: If the both teams fall below six players due to a multiple-player on-field collision or similar event, the game MAY be resumed at a later date at the discretion of the Director of League Play and/or another league officer, if it is determined the game carries such significance to the final regular season standings or playoff standings that it is in the best interest of the league and its members that the game be completed. In this scenario, the game would resume from the exact time on the clock when the last play ended due. The score, possession, down-and-distance and any other game status that was in effect, including ejections/personal fouls, remain in effect. Players not present at the original game may participate in the resumed game, following normal game substitution protocols.
Start of Play/Delay of Game
- The clock starts when the ball is kicked to begin each half of play.
- The ball must be snapped within 30 seconds after the referee's 'ready to play' signal is given, which is usually immediately after the ball is spotted.
- The ball must be snapped to the player that gives the verbal "hike" signal.
- Any attempt to delay the start of play will result in a delay of game penalty.
- The team in possession of the ball is responsible for returning the ball to the line of scrimmage after each play.
- Kickoffs / Punts
- Each half is started with a free kick ("kick-off") at the 30-yard line.
- All team members on the kicking team must line up behind the 30-yard line and cannot cross the line until the ball is kicked.
- At least four players from the receiving team must line up between their 30-yard line and midfield, all remaining players are back to receive the kick.
- If a kick-off goes out of bounds without being touched, the receiving team has the option to put the ball into play at their own 30-yard line, put the ball into play where the ball crossed the sideline and went out-of-bounds or have the kicking team re-kick after a 5-yard penalty has been assessed on the kicking team.
- A ball that is touched by a receiving player and then touches the ground is a dead ball.
- A ball that bounces off the ground and is then touched by the receiving team is a live ball and can be advanced.
- A punt can occur on any down.
- On fourth down, the team in possession of the ball must convey its intention to the referee to punt the ball or try to achieve a first down.
- A minimum of four players from the punt return team must be within one yard of the line of scrimmage (LOS) at the time of the punt. No player from the punt return team at the LOS can jump upward in an attempt to block the punt.
- After a defensive safety has been scored against the offense, the offense shall punt the ball from their 10-yard line.
- Any punt that goes out of bounds without being touched is placed in-bounds where the ball exited the field of play.
- LEVEL 1 blocking occurs when a blocker uses his/her body as a shield to impede a defender's pursuit of the player in possession of the ball. There is no contact between the blocker and defender during LEVEL 1 blocking. LEVEL 1 blocking is allowed during kickoffs and punts, downfield after completion of a forward pass and after a defensive interception.
- Contact is allowed during LEVEL 2 blocking. LEVEL 2 blocking is only permitted after a defender approaches the line of scrimmage and changes his/her initial direction in pursuit of the player in possession of the ball. LEVEL 2 blocking must be initiated by the blocker and can only occur at or behind the line of scrimmage.
- During LEVEL 2 blocking, a blocker must only contact the rectangular area of the defender's front torso (i.e., below the shoulders and above the waist) using open hands, so that the blocker's palms are exposed to the defender. When engaged in LEVEL 2 blocking, the blocker's arms must be flexed/bent at the elbow, not fully extended; must not be crossed; or thrust forward, swinging outside the frame of the blocker's torso.
- Movement in the Neutral Zone
- The neutral zone is the area five yards in front of the line of scrimmage on the defensive side of the ball.
- The defensive rusher must pass through the neutral zone, from one end to the other, in pursuit of the QB.
- A defender can "chuck", not hold, an offensive receiver as long as the receiver remains in the neutral zone.
- Upon initiation of contact with a receiver, a defender can only contact the rectangular area of the receiver's front torso (i.e., below the shoulders and above the waist) using open hands, so that the defender's palms are exposed to the receiver.
- More than one offensive receiver can be "chucked" within the neutral zone.
- A defender is only allowed to "chuck" an offensive receiver once in the five yard neutral zone.
- An offensive receiver cannot initiate contact with a defender in the neutral zone; the receiver must attempt to move around the defender.
- The defensive rusher must avoid charging into a blocker while in pursuit of the player in possession of the ball. Charging into a blocker is known as bull rushing and will result in a penalty.
- To avoid bull rushing, the defensive rusher must change direction upon approaching the line of scrimmage in an effort to avoid becoming engaged with a blocker.
- If the defensive rusher makes an effort to avoid becoming engaged with a blocker and the blocker moves into the path of the defensive rusher at or behind the line of scrimmage, there is no charging.
- Any defensive player can rush from any position on the defensive side of the ball after the primary defensive rusher, who must start at least five yards from the line of scrimmage, crosses the line of scrimmage.
Roughing the Passer
- A defender must make every effort to avoid charging into the QB and no part of the QB's arm can be contacted, including the ball while still in the QB's hand.
- The defender's hands may be up in an attempt to block the ball as long as there is no contact with the QB's arm or the ball while in the QB's hand.
- Roughing the passer penalties may be elevated to Type 2 Personal Fouls for Unnecessary Roughness (see relevant section below) with all associated penalties, if the referee deems the actions an egregious or flagrant act meeting the Type 2 Criteria.
Person Foul: Type 1 - Unsportsmanlike Conduct
Definition: Unsportsmanlike conduct is a foul or offense seen in many sports that violates generally accepted rules of sportsmanship and participant conduct.
- Egregious or Flagrant Foul: 15-yard penalty assessed to team from succeeding spot (i.e., the spot where ball would be placed if no penalty had been called) or the original LOS if the play resulted in a loss of yards, automatic first down, automatic game ejection, suspension from the next scheduled game and, if warranted based on the severity of the conduct upon further review by the league board, possible additional suspension up to and including league expulsion.
- Egregious or flagrant fouls include, but are not limited to:
- Egregious incidents of abusive, insulting, or insensitive language toward any GPFFL player, referee, volunteer, league officer, spectator, or other persons present.
- Fighting: Intentionally swinging, kicking, lunging, grabbing, head-butting, spitting or similar non-football actions directed at any player with the intent to harm or provoke.
- Non-Egregious/Flagrant Foul:
- 1st offense: 15-yard penalty from the succeeding spot, automatic first down and the offender's name will be submitted to league board. NOTE: Warnings from officials may be issued before, but are not required to be issued before, a first offense foul is called.
- 2nd offense in a game/during a game day: 15-yard penalty from the succeeding spot, automatic first down, immediate game ejection and suspension from the next scheduled game if on the same day. Suspension does not carry over to following week's game(s). However, the league board may review the player's member status if there is evidence of a pattern of unsafe actions on the field by the same player.
- Non-flagrant fouls include, but are not limited to:
- Abusive or insulting language or gestures.
- Continued verbal 'harrying' or 'complaining' to the referees.
- Baiting acts or words or insignia worn which engenders ill will.
- Use of disconcerting acts or words prior to the snap in an attempt to interfere with another player or referee's signals or movements.
- Leaving the field between plays or using a 'hide out play' by placing a player or players near the sideline to gain an advantage unless replaced or unless with the permission of the referee.
- Failure to place the ball, after it becomes dead, on the ground or immediately return it to a nearby official.
- Spiking the ball or throwing the ball in the air or from the field of play.
- Attempting to substitute a suspended player.
Personal Foul: Type 2 - Unnecessary Roughness
Definition: A football act in which the player uses excessive force or other actions that are deemed to be dangerous, reckless, or show disregard for the safety of others, regardless of intent.
- 1st penalized offense: 15-yard penalty from the succeeding spot, automatic first down and the player's name is submitted is to the league board.
- 2nd penalized offense: In the same game or during the same game day, results in 15-yard penalty from the succeeding spot, automatic first down, immediate game ejection and immediate suspension from league play pending further review by league board, which may include a hearing to determine the player's member standing in the league. Any hearing should be held before next scheduled date of play, unless the member in question withdraws from the league or the season has ended.
- NOTE: If a 2nd penalized offense occurs in same season, it carries same result as first offense (15-yards/1st down and name submitted to league board) BUT a hearing may be held to determine member's standing, if the league officers have evidence of a pattern of unsafe player actions on the field.
- Examples of Unnecessary Roughness include, but are not limited to:
- Pushing someone down or out of bounds with excessive force.
- Tackling or deflagging a player with excessive force.
- Colliding with a player with excessive force with no intent to de-flag.
- 'Cutting,' 'chopping' or otherwise blocking a player below the waist.
- Crashing or running into a defenseless or airborne player, or otherwise causing the player to be contorted in a dangerous fashion.
- Using one's cleats with intent to harm or injure.
- Only the offensive team can attempt a forward pass.
- A forward pass is when the ball is thrown in the direction that the offensive team is trying to advance (i.e., towards the defensive team's goal line).
- A pass completed behind the line of scrimmage but thrown in the direction that the offensive team is trying to advance is considered a forward pass (e.g., screen, dump, shovel pass)
- Only one forward pass is permitted per play.
- The QB cannot pass the ball to him/herself.
- The QB is allowed to intentionally ground the ball.
- The team in possession of the ball can attempt a lateral.
- A lateral is a pass that is thrown parallel to or behind the player that throws the pass.
- A lateral can occur anywhere on the field.
- There is no limit to the number of times a lateral can be attempted per play.
Running the Ball
- Only one run is permitted per offensive possession; an extra point attempt is considered a new possession and a running play may be used.
- Carrying the ball across the line of scrimmage via a hand off, parallel or backward lateral or QB scramble is considered a run.
- If a player in possession of the ball attempts to run the ball but is deflagged behind the line of scrimmage, the play does not count as a run.
- Diving is an attempt to advance the ball without landing on one's feet.
- A ball carrier must not dive forward to advance the ball.
- Diving to make a catch or to deflag an opposing player is legal, provided there is no illegal contact during the play.
- Diving into a ball carrier to deflag the ball carrier is illegal.
- Hurdling is considered jumping (e.g., in stride) so that both feet leave the ground simultaneously, whether a player is moving forward, sideways/laterally, or diving to advance the ball.
- EXEPTION: Spinning is permitted unless the spinning action includes the player elevating into the air, as to be tantamount to hurdling.
- A ball carrier must not hurdle to avoid being deflagged.
- A player may step over another player who is lying prone on the ground.
- If a ball carrier's knee touches the ground or he/she falls down, the play is blown dead at the spot where the ball carrier's knee or body hit the ground.
- A fumbled ball that touches the ground is always a dead ball at the spot of the fumble.
- A fumble in mid-air may be advanced by the recovering team before the ball touches the ground.
- If a ball touches the ground while still in control of the ball carrier (e.g., the ball carrier uses the ball to prevent a fall down), the ball carrier is not down and the play continues until he/she is deflagged or steps out of bounds.
- A ball cannot be intentionally stripped away from a ball carrier in an attempt to force a fumble.
- A center snap misplayed by the QB, after being touched, is a dead ball at the spot where the ball touches the ground. If a snap hits ground without being touched by the QB, it is a dead ball and placed back at the line of scrimmage.
- The ball carrier cannot obstruct (e.g., using one's hands) a defensive player in an attempt to protect his/her flags from being removed.
- A ball carrier must not charge into a defender while the defender attempts to deflag the ball carrier.
- A tackle occurs and the play is dead when the ball carrier is deflagged.
- A defensive player must not hold, push, or knock the ball carrier down in an attempt to remove the flag.
- It is illegal to obstruct the forward progress of the ball carrier while attempting to deflag the ball carrier.
- If the ball carrier's flags fall off accidentally, the defender only needs to tag the ball carrier for the ball carrier to be tackled.
- Flags must be worn completely outside a player's shorts/shirts with the clip in the front so the flags hang to the side and back of the player.
- Shirts must be tucked into the shorts and no part of the flag or flag belt may be tucked into the player's shorts or shirt in an attempt to prevent removal of the flags.
- Shorts without pockets should be worn by all players.
Out of Bounds
- A receiver is in-bounds if at least one foot touches the ground after the ball is in his/her control and possession.
- If the receiver is determined by the referee to have been pushed out of bounds after catching a pass but before one foot touches with ground, the pass is considered complete.
- A receiver is considered ineligible if he/she steps out of bounds, including the back of the end zone, and then returns to the field of play.
- The location of the ball at the time the ball carrier is deflagged determines the LOS for the ensuing play.
- A safety is scored when a defender deflags an offensive player in possession of the ball in the offensive team's end zone OR when an offensive player commits a penalty in the offensive team's end zone. A safety is worth two points.
The goal line is part of the end zone and a touchdown is scored when any part of the ball touches the goal line. A touchdown is worth six points.
Extra Point Attempt
- Extra points are attempted after a touchdown.
- A two point conversion will be attempted from the 10-yard line.
- A one point conversion will be attempted from the 5-yard line.
- An extra point attempt is considered a new series/possession and a running play may be used.
- A defensive interception returned the entire length of the field will result in two points for the defensive team.
- After a touchdown and extra point attempt, there is a change of possession and the ball is spotted on the scored upon team's 15-yard line, unless the team that just scored attempts an onside play as described below.
Onside Play - Playoffs Only
- The onside play will afford the trailing team in a playoff or championship game one down from its own 15-yard line to advance the ball, by virtue of a completed pass only (not a run play), to or beyond its own 30-yard line. The forward pass must also cross the line of scrimmage. The trailing team is permitted only one onside play attempt in the second half of the game. It may be used by a trailing team regardless of the amount of time remaining on the game clock or the score differential. If successful, the trailing team will either score on the onside play or regain possession of the football and be afforded the opportunity to continue to advance the football down the field via the normal 10-yard, four-down rule. If the trailing team is unsuccessful executing the onside play, the leading team takes possession of the ball at the yard line where the onside play attempt ended.