Intramural Flag Football Rules

Games governed by NIRSA Flag & Touch Football Rules with modifications:

I. ELIGIBILITY Current Hartwick students, staff, and faculty


  1. Games shall be played between two teams of 7 players each.
  2. No Metal Cleats
  3. NOTE: The intramural staff reserves the right to prohibit any apparel that it deems unsafe or not within the spirit of the rule!
  4. All substitutes, spectators, etc., must remain at least 5 yards behind the restraining line on each field at all times.
  5. The field of play is 80 yards. There are four 20-yard zones and two ten-yard end zones that mark the field of play. Teams in possession of the ball are given four downs in which to advance the ball into the next 20- yard (advancing) zone. Failing to cross into the next advancing zone results in loss of possession.


  1. The game will consist of two halves of 20 minutes each. The clock will run continuously for each half (excluding time outs) for the first 18 minutes and stopped time the last 2 minutes. The clock will run during P.A.T.
  3. A coin toss will determine choice. The team winning the toss shall choose one of the following options: (1) receiving the ball or (2) which goal to defend. At the start of the second half the team losing the coin toss shall choose between the same options. Teams winning the toss in the first half can not defer their choice until the second half.
  4. Each team is allowed 2 one-minute time-outs per half. Half time will consist of no more than 3 minutes.
  5. A team may substitute any number, but no more than seven players may be on the field at any given time.
  6. No substitute shall enter the game while a down is in progress.


  1. The ball is dead whenever:
    • A live ball touches the ground (other than a kicked ball).
    • The ball is muffed on a punt return (the kick returnee drops the ball after touching it).
    • Any part of the ball carriers body, except hand or foot, touches the ground.
    • The officials whistle is sounded.
    • The ball carrier steps on or over a boundary line.
    • A forward pass, backward pass or fumble strikes the ground
    • A ball carrier’s flag is pulled.
    • A passers flag is pulled before the ball leaves the hand.
  2. Whenever the football is fumbled, batted or muffed, the ball is spotted where the ball first touched the ground. Exception: The ball is spotted where possession was lost if the team gains an advantage by fumbling the ball.
  3. An offensive player who goes out of bounds under his/hers own impetus during a down may not participate in the remainder of the down.


  1. Punts will be PROTECTED SCRIMMAGE KICKS and must be declared to the referee prior to the snap.
  2. Neither team may move or leave the line of scrimmage until the ball is PUNTED.
  3. Both the defense and offense must maintain 4 people on the line of scrimmage prior to the ball being PUNTED.
  4. The Punter must receive the snap of the ball at least 5-yards behind the line of scrimmage and Punt the ball immediately (within 10 seconds) and in one continuous motion. The ball MUST be Punted forward of the line of scrimmage so that the receiving team may have an opportunity to field the ball. If team “A” is the Punting team, then team “B” must be given the opportunity to receive the Punted ball.
  5. Attempting to block a punt is an illegal act.


  1. The scrimmage line is determined by the position of the ball.
  2. No player shall be offside prior to, or at the snap of the ball.
  3. Defensive players shall not enter the established neutral zone before the snap. As soon as they enter the neutral zone the ball becomes dead. This is encroachment. Penalty: 5-yards replay the down.
  4. Defensive players must remain 5 yards off the line of scrimmage prior to the snap.
  5. The ball may be snapped between the legs or from the side. The ball must remain on the ground until it is snapped.
  6. The player receiving the snap must be a minimum of 3-yards behind the scrimmage line.
  7. All players must line up at least 5 yards from the sidelines.
  8. The offensive team is required to have a minimum of 4 players on the line of scrimmage.
  9. Offensive players must be motionless at the snap of the ball, but one player may be in motion parallel to or away from the line of scrimmage.
  10. No player shall take a 3 or 4 point stance.
  11. The neutral zone between the offense and the defense is 5 yards.


  1. Players shall not hand the ball forward of the line of scrimmage or after a kick. A ball may be handed backward any time.
  2. The player receiving the snap may make a direct run to advance the ball.
  3. A snapper may not receive a hand-off unless he/she has first turned 180 degrees to face their own end zone.


  1. Only one forward pass can be thrown per down. The initial direction of a pass determines whether the pass is forward of backward. Example: If a passer throws a forward pass that is BEHIND the line of scrimmage, this is considered a forward pass.
  2. Any player may make a backward pass to any other player at any time.
  3. An incomplete backward pass or fumble is a dead ball at the spot where it strikes the ground. The team last in possession retains possession at that spot.
  4. A fumble may not be recovered by the defense.
  5. A forward pass caught simultaneously by opposing players is dead and belongs to the offensive team at that spot. If either player lands out of bounds, the pass is incomplete.
  6. 2 or more offensive players in succession may touch a pass.
  7. A receiver must have 1 foot inbound for a pass to be ruled complete. (If that foot lands out of bounds simultaneously with, or before, the inbound foot lands, the pass is incomplete).
  8. Illegal forward passes include forward passes released beyond the scrimmage line.
  9. Both offensive and defensive receivers shall have the same opportunity to catch a thrown pass without physical contact. Therefore, neither team may use physical contact to "break up" a pass regardless if contact comes before or after the ball becomes a pass that can be caught.
  10. Defensive players may not contact or "chuck" offensive receivers. This is a “no contact sport”!


  1. Offensive Screen Blocking shall take place with minimal or no contact. The screen blocker must have their hands, elbows, and arms close to or behind their bodies. Screen Blocking is defined as taking a normal upright stance and/or moving to maintain a position between the opponent and the ball carrier without making contact. A player making a screen block shall not take a position so close to a moving opponent that the opponent cannot avoid contact. A player, when behind a stationary opponent, shall not take a position closer than a normal step away from the opponent. Use of any part of the body to initiate contact is illegal. Unintentional contact causing the offensive team to receive an advantage is also illegal. Screen blocker must be on their feet while attempting to screen block.
  2. The ball carrier must avoid contact with defensive players attempting to pull his/hers flags. He/she may not intentionally run into defensive players or lower head and/or shoulder to gain an advantage.
  3. The ball carrier may not flag guard or stiff arm.
  4. Teammates may not physically assist (push, pull, etc.) the ball carrier to gain an advantage.
  5. If a ball carrier inadvertently loses his/her flag, a one-hand tag between the shoulders and the knees constitutes capture.
  6. A ball carrier may leave his/her feet in order to gain a certain yardage, but may not go through or initiate contact with an opposing player.
  7. After an inadvertent or early whistle is sounded, the team in possession of the ball will have the choice of either (1) accepting the play or (2) replaying the down.


  1. Defensive rushing shall take place with minimal or no contact. The defensive players are expected to go around an offensive screen blocker by using an evasive maneuver. Hands and arms cannot be used to hold or push an opponent to gain an advantage.
  2. Fundamentals of Flag Football: The flag must be played at all times (defensive players may not "steal" the ball from an opponent).
  3. Regardless of the situation the neutral zone is always 5 yards.
  4. Players may leap into the air in an attempt to deflect a thrown ball provided that there is no physical contact (in mid-air or upon landing) with an opponent.
  5. Players may not contact a thrower's arm when attempting to block a pass and must allow the thrower a full follow through motion.
  6. Players may not illegally obstruct the ball carrier while attempting to de-flag him/her.
  7. De-flagging the ball carrier is the only legal way to stop his/her progress. Pushing the ball carrier out-of-bounds is an illegal act. Penalty: Unsportsmanlike conduct.


  1. A touchdown is worth 6 points. It is scored when the ball penetrates the vertical plane of the opponents goal line. The player scoring the touchdown must raise his/her arms so the nearest official can deflag the player. If the player is not deflagged with one pull and the official determines the flag belt has been secured illegally, the touchdown is disallowed, and the player is disqualified.
  2. The TRY - (PAT): An opportunity to score 1 POINT from the 3 yard line, 2 POINTS from the 10 yard line, 3 POINTS from the 20 yard line by running or passing the ball only shall be granted the team scoring the touchdown. The offensive team must declare their option immediately following their touchdown.
  3. On the TRY - (PAT): The defensive team may intercept the ball and attempt to advance the ball toward the opponent's goal line. At the conclusion of the play, the defensive team has the option of accepting the result of the play (including scoring a touchdown, 6 points) in lieu of receiving the ball at the 10-yard line.
  4. If a ball carrier is downed (de-flagged) behind his/her goal line, either a safety or a touchback is the result. If force exerted by the team whose goal line is involved is responsible for the ball being there, it is a safety. If by their opponents, it is a touchback.
  5. A safety is worth 2 points for the defense and brings the ball to the 10-yard line with a first down.
  6. A touchback brings the ball to the 10-yard line with a first down.
  7. A fumble, backward pass or snap that goes out of bounds behind the goal line or would be spotted behind the line is a safety.
  8. A foul by the offensive team behind their own goal line is a safety.
  9. If a pass is intercepted and momentum carries the ball carrier into the end zone a touchback results.


  1. In the event the game ends in a tie, both teams shall have four attempts to score from the ten-yard line. The team that scores the most points will be declared the winner. If the game is still tied after both teams have attempted two series, then the ball will be moved to the five-yard line. If still tied after two more series, then the ball will be moved to the three-yard line. If still tied, the ball will remain at the 3-yard line until a winner is determined.
  2. A coin toss will determine the first offensive possession in the overtime.
  3. The same end of the field will be used for both teams' attempts.
  4. No extra points are attempted during overtime periods.
  5. The four downs will be treated as a regular offensive series. If a team gains one yard on it’s first down then it shall be second and goal to go. However, if a team scores a touchdown on the first play they then still have three more downs in the series. So, a team could potentially score twenty-four points during a four play series.
  6. If the defense intercepts a pass then the defense takes possession of the ball to begin their offensive series, there is a change of possession.



  • Required equipment worn illegally
  • Player out of bounds when ball is snapped
  • Delay of game
  • Offensive player illegally in motion
  • Illegal substitution
  • Player receiving snap less than 3 yards behind the scrimmage line
  • Helping the runner
  • Illegal shift
  • Less than 4 players on the offensive line of scrimmage
  • Illegally handing the ball forward (also loss of down)
  • Offensive player less than 5 yards from the sideline
  • Illegal forward pass (also loss of down)
  • Infraction of protected scrimmage kick
  • Intentional grounding (also loss of down)
  • Encroachment
  • False start
  • Infraction of scrimmage formation
  • Illegal snap


  • Quick Kick
  • Contact before or after ball is dead
  • Kick catch interference
  • Unnecessary contact of any nature
  • Forward pass interference-Offensive (loss of down)
  • Drive or run into player
  • Forward pass interference-Defensive (automatic 1st down)
  • Clipping
  • Illegally secured flag belt on touchdown (loss of down)
  • Position upon shoulder or body of player to gain advantage
  • Unsportsmanlike Conduct player, team, spectator
  • Tackle runner
  • Spiking, kicking, throwing , not returning ball to the official
  • Roughing the passer (automatic 1st down)
  • Steal, strike, or attempt to steal the ball
  • Illegal offensive screen blocking
  • Trip an opponent
  • Interlocked interference
  • Contact with opponent on the ground
  • Defensive Use of hands
  • Throw runner to the ground
  • Guarding the flag belt (Flag Guarding)
  • Hurdle any player
  • Stiff arm
  • Obstruction of runner
  • Illegal Kicking
  • Illegal participation
  • Reentry of disqualified player