ARTICLE 2.A legal substitute may replace a player or fill a player vacancy provided none of the following restrictions is violated:
a. No incoming substitute shall enter the field of play or an end zone while the ball is in play.
b. No player, in excess of 11, shall leave the field of play or an end zone while the ball is in play.
PENALTY [a-b] Live-ball foul. Five yards from the previous spot [S22].
Approved Ruling 3-5-2 I. Any player(s), in excess of 11, obviously is withdrawing but has not reached a boundary line when the ball is put in play and he does not interfere with play or players. RULING: Live-ball foul. Penalty—Five yards from the previous spot.
1. An incoming legal substitute must enter the field of play directly from their team area, and a substitute, player or departing player must depart at the sideline nearest their team area and proceed to their team area.
2. A departing player must immediately leave the field of play, including the end zones. A departing player who leaves the huddle or their position within three seconds, after a substitute becomes a player, is considered to have left immediately.
d. Substitutes who become players (Rule 2-27-9) must remain in the game for at least one play and replaced players must remain out of the game for at least one play, except during the interval between periods, after a score, or when a timeout is charged to a team or to the referee with the exception of a live-ball out of bounds or an incomplete forward pass.
PENALTY [c-d]—Dead-ball foul: Five yards from the succeeding spot.
Approved Ruling 3-5-2 III. On third down (no change of team possession), ball carrier A27 goes out of bounds or Team A’s legal forward pass falls incomplete. During this interval between downs, there is no other referee’s timeout. Before the fourth-down snap, substitute B75 enters the game and then departs without remaining in the game for one play. RULING: Dead-ball foul. Penalty—Five yards from the succeeding spot.
Approved Ruling 3-5-2 IV. Team A has 11 players in the huddle. A81 mistakenly thinks he has been replaced and runs to his team area. He is immediately sent back onto the field and assumes a position on the line of scrimmage near his sideline. The entire team has been stationary for one second before the snap and there has not been a referee’s timeout. RULING: Dead-ball foul. The player loses his status as a participant when he enters the team area while the ball is dead, and then must adhere to substitution rules. Penalty—Five yards from the succeeding spot, or 15 yards from the succeeding spot if this is judged to be a violation of Rule 9-2-2b (Rules 3-5-2d and 9-2-2b).
Approved Ruling 3-5-2 V. After the ball is ready for play and the umpire (or center judge) is in his regular position, Team A quickly replaces some players with substitutes, gets set for the required one second and snaps the ball. The umpire (or center judge) is attempting to get to the ball to allow the defense to match up, but he is unable to prevent the snap. RULING: The play is shut down, the game clock is stopped and the defense is allowed to substitute in response to Team A’s late substitutions. No foul. The play clock is set to 25 seconds and starts on the ready-for-play signal. The game clock starts on the ready-for-play signal or the snap, depending on its condition when play was stopped. The referee informs the Team A head coach that any subsequent such actions will result in a foul against the team for unsportsmanlike conduct under Rule 9-2-3.
Approved Ruling 3-5-2 VI. After a down that resulted in first and 10 at the B-40, eleven players of Team A, which runs a no-huddle offense, move to their various positions to set for the next play. The ball is ready for play when A22 runs onto the field from his team area, and after he pauses the top of the numbers, he or the coaching staff apparently realizes that he is the 12th player. A22 then turns and runs back to his team area. The ball has not been snapped. RULING: Dead-ball foul for a substitution infraction. By interpretation A22 has become a player by entering his team’s “effective huddle” and thus must remain in the game for one play. Five-yard penalty. Team A will have first and 15 at the B-45. (Rule 2-27-9b)
Approved Ruling 3-5-2 VII. Late in the first half Team A is out of timeouts. A pass play on third down ends inbounds at the B-25 short of the line to gain with the game clock showing 0:10. Facing fourth down and three, Team A immediately hurries its field goal team onto the field. RULING: Team B should reasonably expect that Team A will attempt a field goal in this situation and should have its field-goal defense unit ready. The umpire will not stand over the ball, as there should be no issue of the defense being uncertain about the next play.
e. When Team A sends in its substitutes, the officials will not allow the ball to be snapped until Team B has been given an opportunity to substitute. While in the process of substitution or simulated substitution, Team A is prohibited from rushing quickly to the line of scrimmage with the obvious attempt of creating a defensive disadvantage. If the ball is ready for play, the game officials will not permit the ball to be snapped until Team B has placed substitutes in position and replaced players have left the field of play. Team B must react promptly with its substitutes.
PENALTY—(First Offense)—Dead-ball foul. Delay of game on Team B for not completing its substitutions promptly, or delay of game on Team A for causing the play clock to expire. Five yards from the succeeding spot [S21]. The referee will then notify the head coach that any further use of this tactic will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.
PENALTY—(Second or more offense)—Dead-ball foul, team unsportsmanlike conduct. An official will sound their whistle immediately. 15 yards from the succeeding spot [S27].
Approved Ruling 3-5-2 II. After a change of team possession or any timeout, the ball is declared ready for play. When Team A has completed its offensive formation, Team B must promptly position its personnel. Team B will be allowed time to complete substitutions. RULING: Either team is subject to a delay-of-game foul— Team B for not completing its substitutions promptly (Rule 3-4-2b-3) or Team A for causing the 25-second clock to expire. Penalty—Five yards from the succeeding spot.
Approved Ruling 3-5-2 VIII. Late in the first half Team A is out of timeouts. A pass play on third down ends inbounds at the B-25 short of the line to gain with the game clock showing 0:30. Facing fourth down and three, Team A gives no indication as to its next play until the game clock reads 0:10. They then rush their field goal unit onto the field, and Team B then hurries to respond. RULING: The umpire moves to the ball to prevent the snap until Team B has had a reasonable opportunity to get its field-goal defense unit onto the field. The umpire will step away when he judges that the defense has had enough time. If the game clock reads 0:00 before the ball is snapped after the umpire steps away, the half is over.