College: 8-5-1a Exception

SECTION 5. Safety

How Scored

ARTICLE 1. It is a safety when:

a. The ball becomes dead out of bounds behind a goal line, except from an incomplete forward pass, or becomes dead in the possession of a player on, above or behind their own goal line, or becomes dead by rule, and the defending team is responsible for the ball being there. When in question, it is a touchback, not a safety.

Approved Ruling 6-3-11 IV. Team A snaps at the 50-yard line and punts. During the kick, B77 clips at Team B’s 25-yard line. The untouched kick is batted backward by Team A out of bounds from the end zone and goes out of bounds on the two-yard line. RULING: No foul for batting the ball in the end zone. Illegal touching. B77’s clipping foul is governed by post-scrimmage kick rules (Rule 10-2-3). Team A will accept the penalty, which cancels the illegal touching privilege. The penalty is enforced at the post-scrimmage kick spot, the B-20, half the distance to the goal. Team B’s ball at the B-10.

Approved Ruling 7-2-4 I. B20 intercepts a legal forward pass (a) in his end zone, (b) on his three-yard line, and his momentum carries him into his end zone, or (c) in the field of play and retreats into his end zone (no momentum). In each instance, B20 fumbles in the end zone and the ball rolls forward and out of bounds on Team B’s two-yard line. RULING: The ball belongs to Team B at the spot of the fumble (Team B’s end zone); (a) touchback, (b) Team B’s ball at the three-yard line, and (c) safety (Rules 8-5-1 and 8-6-1).

Approved Ruling 8-5-1 I. A10, after receiving the snap in his own end zone, is downed with the ball resting on his goal line, its forward point being in the field of play. RULING: Safety. A part of the dead ball is on the ball carrier’s goal line.

Approved Ruling 8-5-1 II. A scrimmage kick fails to cross the neutral zone, or crosses the neutral zone and is first touched by Team B, or is untouched and then rebounds into the end zone, where it is declared dead in Team A’s possession. RULING: Safety (Rule 8-7-2a).

Approved Ruling 8-5-1 IV. B1 intercepts a pass or fumble or catches a scrimmage or free kick between his five-yard line and the goal line, and his momentum carries him into the end zone. The ball remains in the end zone and is declared dead there in Team B’s possession. RULING: Team B’s ball at the spot where the pass or fumble was intercepted, or the kick was caught. The ruling is the same if B1 had recovered a fumble, a backward pass or a kick under similar circumstances.

Approved Ruling 8-5-1 VI. Team A’s fumble or backward pass strikes the ground. Team B muffs the ball in an attempt to recover, but it crosses Team A’s goal line, where Team A falls on the ball or the ball goes out of bounds from the end zone. RULING: Safety. The impetus came from the fumble or pass (Rule 8-7-2a).

Approved Ruling 8-5-1 VII. A36 intends to punt from behind its goal line, but he muffs the ball. After A36 recovers the ball, he runs into the pylon at the intersection of the sideline and goal line. RULING: Safety, unless the entire ball is beyond the goal line as the ball carrier contacts the sideline or pylon. The ball is dead at its most forward point when A36 contacts the pylon or sideline (Rules 2-31-3 and 4-2-4d).

Approved Ruling 8-5-1 VIII. B40 intercepts a pass on Team B’s four-yard line. His momentum is taking him into the end zone when he fumbles the ball on the one-yard line and (a) B40, the fumbler, recovers the fumble in the end zone, or (b) B45, a teammate of the fumbler, recovers the fumble in the end zone. RULING: Safety in both (a) and (b).

Approved Ruling 8-5-1 IX. B47 intercepts a pass at the B-3. His momentum carries him into the end zone where he fumbles. The ball rolls into the field of play. A33 recovers at the B-2 but he is hit and fumbles. The ball rolls into the end zone and over the end line. RULING: Touchback. Team B’s ball, first and 10 at the B-20. The momentum rule applies only if the ball remains in the end zone and is declared dead there. (Rule 8-6-1)

Approved Ruling 8-5-1 X. Third and five at the B-20. Defensive back B44 intercepts a forward pass in his end zone. While still in the end zone he fumbles the ball. It rolls forward, goes into the field of play, and in the scramble the ball goes back into the end zone (a) where B44 recovers while grounded; (b) and over the end line. RULING: (a) and (b) Safety, two points for Team A. The impetus for the ball going into the end zone the second time is B44’s fumble. The scramble to recover the ball does not add new impetus. The momentum rule does not apply because the ball did not remain in the end zone. (Rule 8-7-2)

Approved Ruling 8-7-2 II. Any kick by Team A strikes the ground and a Team B player bats the ball across Team B’s goal line, where Team B recovers it while grounded or it goes out of bounds. RULING: New impetus is given by Team B. Safety, two points for Team A. Batting the kick is considered to have destroyed the impetus of the kick and imparted a new impetus. However, merely touching or deflecting the kick, or being struck by it, does not destroy the impetus of the kick (Rule 8-5-1a).

Approved Ruling 9-4-1 VIII. Team A’s backward pass in flight is batted by B1, and the ball goes out of bounds behind Team A’s goal line. RULING: Safety. A pass may be batted in any direction and the impetus is charged to Team A’s pass (Rule 8-5-1a).


It is not a safety if a player between their own team’s five-yard line and goal line:

(a) intercepts a pass or fumble; or recovers an opponent’s fumble or backward pass; or catches or recovers a kick; and

(b) the player’s original momentum carries that player into their own end zone; and

(c) the ball remains behind that team’s goal line and is declared dead in that team’s possession there. This includes a fumble that goes from the end zone into the field of play and out of bounds (Rule 7-2-4b-1).

If conditions (a)-(c) are satisfied above, the ball belongs to this player’s team at the spot where that player gained possession.