IFAF RULE 5 – Series of Downs, Line to Gain

SECTION 2. Down and Possession After a Penalty


ARTICLE 1. Foul During Free Kick Down


When a scrimmage down follows the penalty for a foul committed during a free kick down, the down and distance established by that penalty shall be first down with a new line to gain.

ARTICLE 2. Penalty Resulting in New Series


It is a new series with a new line to gain:

  1. After a penalty that leaves the ball in possession of Team A beyond its line to gain.

  2. After a penalty that mandates a first down.

ARTICLE 3. Foul Before Change of Team Possession



  1. If a penalty is accepted for a foul that occurs between the goal lines before a change of team possession during a down, the ball belongs to Team A. The down shall be repeated, unless the penalty also involves loss of a down, mandates a first down, or leaves the ball on or beyond the line to gain (Exceptions: Rules 8-3-3-b-1, 10-2-3, 10-2-4 and 10-2-5). (A.R. 10-2-3:I)

  2. If the penalty involves loss of a down, the down shall count as one of the four in that series.

Approved ruling 5-2-3


  1. Team A’s fourth-down legal forward pass strikes the ground after it touches an originally ineligible receiver who is illegally more than three yards beyond the neutral zone. RULING: Penalty — Five yards from the previous spot. Team B’s ball, first and 10, if the penalty is declined (Rule 7-3-10). [Cited by 7-3-11]

ARTICLE 4. Foul After Change of Team Possession


If a penalty is accepted for a foul that occurs during a down after a change of team possession, the ball belongs to the team in possession when the foul occurred. The down and distance established by any such penalty shall be first down with a new line to gain (Exception: Rule 10-2-5-a).

ARTICLE 5. Penalty Declined


If a penalty is declined, the number of the next down shall be whatever it would have been if that foul had not occurred.

ARTICLE 6. Foul Between Downs


After a distance penalty incurred between downs, the number of the next down shall be the same as that established before the foul occurred, unless enforcement for a foul by Team B leaves the ball on or beyond the line to gain or a penalty mandates a first down (Rule 9-1). (A.R. 5-2-6:I) (A.R. 10-1-5:I-III)

Approved ruling 5-2-6


  1. Fourth and two on Team A’s 35-yard line. A1 receives the snap and fumbles the ball on Team A’s 38-yard line, with the ball going out of bounds on (a) Team A’s 40-yard line or (b) Team A’s 30-yard line. Immediately after the ball goes out of bounds, Team A commits a personal foul. RULING: (a) Team A’s ball, first and 10 on Team A’s 23-yard line. Start the clock on the ready-for-play signal. (b) Team B’s ball, first and 10 on Team A’s 15-yard line. Start the clock on the snap. [Cited by 5-2-6]

ARTICLE 7. Foul Between Series




  1. The penalty for any dead-ball foul (including live-ball fouls treated as dead-ball fouls) that occurs after a series ends and before the ball is ready for play shall be completed before the line to gain is established.

  2. The penalty for any dead-ball foul that occurs after the ball is ready for play shall be completed after the line to gain is established. (A.R. 5-2-7:I-V)

Approved ruling 5-2-7


  1. Third and four on Team B’s 30-yard line. Ball carrier A22 goes out of bounds on the 18-yard line. B88 commits a foul immediately after the ball is out of bounds. RULING: First and goal for Team A at the nine-yard line. Clock starts on the ready-for-play signal except in the last two minutes of a half. [Cited by 5-2-7-b]
  2. Fourth and four at the A-16. Ball carrier A22 goes out of bounds at the A-18. A77 commits a foul immediately after the ball is out of bounds. RULING: Team B’s ball on the nine-yard line. First and goal. Start the clock on the snap. [Cited by 5-2-7-b]
  3. On fourth and five, Team A gains six yards and is awarded a new series. After the ball is made ready for play and before the snap, A55 commits (a) a personal foul, or (b) a false start. RULING: (a) First and 25. (b) First and 15. [Cited by 5-2-7-b]
  4. Team A’s ball, third and four from the 50-yard line. After the ball is made ready for play and before the snap, B60 charges across the neutral zone and contacts snapper A50. A61 then fouls B60. A61’s foul is a personal foul. RULING: Penalize Team B five yards for B60’s offside, then penalize Team A 15 yards and reset the line-to-gain indicator to indicate first and 10 from Team A’s 40-yard line. [Cited by 5-2-7-b]
  5. After Team A has made a first down, the umpire has placed the ball on the ground at the B-30. The referee waves the umpire away from the ball but before he signals the ball ready for play, snapper A55 snaps the ball. RULING: Team A dead-ball foul for delay of game. Five-yard penalty, first and 10 at the B-35. NOTE: This is a foul between series in that it takes place before the ball is declared ready for the next series. Hence it is first and 10, not first and 15 (Rules 4-1-1, 4-1-4). [Cited by 5-2-7-b]
  6. Ball carrier A22 is tackled hard by B44 at the B-5, resulting in first and goal. After the ball is dead, A22 gets up and slugs B44. RULING: 15-yard penalty against Team A; A22 is disqualified. After enforcement of the penalty, Team A will have first and 10 at the B-20.

ARTICLE 8. Fouls by Both Teams


If offsetting fouls occur during a down, that down shall be repeated (Rule 10-1-4 Exceptions). (A.R. 10-1-4:III-VI and VII)

ARTICLE 9. Rules Decisions Final


No rule decision may be changed after the ball is next legally snapped, legally free kicked or the second or fourth periods have ended (Rules 3-2-1-a, 3-3-4-e-2 and 11-1-1). (Exception: The number of a down may be corrected any time within that series of downs or before the ball is legally next put in play after that series.)