NCAA RULE 3 Periods, Time Factors and Substitutions

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SECTION 1. Start of Each Period


ARTICLE 1. First and Third Periods



  1. Each half shall start with a kickoff.

  2. Three minutes before the scheduled starting time, the referee shall toss a coin at midfield in the presence of not more than four field captains from each team and another game official, first designating the field captain of the visiting team to call the coin toss. Before the second half, the referee will obtain the teams’ second half options.

  3. During the coin toss, each team shall remain in the area between the nine-yard marks and its sideline or in the team area. The coin toss begins when the field captains leave the nine-yard marks and ends when the captains return to the nine-yard marks.

  4. PENALTY –
    [c] Five yards from the succeeding spot [S19].

  5. The winner of the toss shall choose one of the following options:

    1. To designate which team shall kick off.

    2. To designate which goal line his team shall defend.

    3. To defer his selection to the second half.

  6. The opponent shall then choose option 1 or 2 above, as available.

  7. If the winner of the toss chooses option 3 above, then after the opponent’s choice the winner selects the available option (1 or 2 above).

  8. For the second half, the loser of the toss, or the winner who chooses option 3 above, shall choose option 1 or 2 above. The opponent then chooses the remaining available option.

ARTICLE 2. Second and Fourth Periods


Between the first and second periods and also between the third and fourth periods, the teams shall defend opposite goal lines.

  1. The ball shall be relocated at a spot corresponding exactly, in relation to goal lines and sidelines, to its location at the end of the preceding period.

  2. Possession of the ball, the number of the down and the distance to be gained shall remain unchanged.

ARTICLE 3. Extra Periods


NCAA/IFAF overtime procedure diagram
The tiebreaker system will be used when a game is tied after four periods. (Exception: Competitions may adopt regulations to forgo the tiebreaker system if the scores are tied at the end of a regular season game. In that event, the game shall be terminated and the result shall stand as a tie.) NCAA football-playing rules apply, with the following exceptions:

  1. Immediately after the conclusion of the fourth quarter, officials will instruct both teams to retire to their respective team areas. The officials will assemble at the midfield line and review the tiebreaker procedures.

  2. The officials will escort the captains (Rule 3-1-1) to the centre of the field for the coin toss. The referee shall toss a coin at midfield in the presence of not more than four field captains from each team and another game official, first designating the field captain of the visiting team to call the coin toss. The winner of the toss may not defer the choice and shall choose one of the following options:

    1. Offense or defense, with the offense at the opponent’s 25-yard line to start the first possession series.

    2. Which end of the field shall be used for both possession series of that overtime period.

  3. The loser of the toss shall exercise the remaining option for the first extra period and shall have the first choice of the two options for subsequent even-numbered extra periods.

  4. Extra periods: An extra period shall consist of two possession series with each team putting the ball in play by a snap on or between the hash marks on the designated 25-yard line (unless relocated by penalty), which becomes the opponent’s 25-yard line. The snap shall be from midway between the hash marks, unless the offensive team selects a different position on or between the hash marks before the ready-for-play signal. After the ready-for-play signal, the ball may be relocated after a charged team timeout, unless preceded by a Team A foul or offsetting fouls.

  5. Possession series: Each team retains the ball during a possession series until it scores or fails to make a first down. The ball remains alive after a change of team possession until it is declared dead. However, Team A may not have a first and 10 if it again possesses the ball after a change of team possession (A.R. 3-1-3:I-IX). Team A and B designations are the same as defined in Rule 2-27-1.

  6. Scoring: The team scoring the greater number of points during the regulation and extra periods shall be declared the winner. There shall be an equal number of possession series, as described in (e) above, in each extra period, unless Team B scores other than on the try. Beginning with the third extra period, teams scoring a touchdown must attempt a two-point try. Although not illegal, a one-point try attempt by Team A will not score a point. (A.R. 3-1-3:X)

  7. Fouls after a change of team possession (A.R. 3-1-3:XI-XIV):


    1. Penalties against either team are declined by rule in extra periods (Exceptions: Penalties for flagrant personal fouls, unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, dead-ball personal fouls and live-ball fouls treated as dead-ball fouls are enforced on the succeeding play).

    2. A score by a team committing a foul during the down is canceled. (Exception: Live-ball foul treated as a dead-ball foul.)

  8. Timeouts: Each team shall be allowed one timeout for each extra period (Rule 3-3-7). Timeouts not used during the regulation periods may not be carried over into the extra period(s). Unused extra period timeouts may not be carried over to other extra periods. Timeouts between periods shall be charged to the succeeding period. Radio and television timeouts are permitted only between extra periods (first and second, second and third, etc.). Charged team timeouts may not be extended for radio and television purposes. The extra period(s) begins when the ball is first snapped.

Approved ruling 3-1-3


  1. Other than on the try, Team B scores a touchdown after intercepting a forward pass, intercepting or recovering a backward pass or fumble, or returning a blocked field goal attempt. RULING: Period and game are ended, and Team B is the winner. [Cited by 3-1-3-e]
  2. During the first possession series of a period, Team B intercepts a forward pass, or intercepts or recovers a fumble or a backward pass, and does not score a touchdown. RULING: Team A’s possession series is ended and Team B starts its series. Team B becomes Team A when the referee declares the ball ready for play. [Cited by 3-1-3-e]
  3. During the first possession series of a period, Team A’s field goal attempt is blocked and does not cross the neutral zone. Team A recovers the ball and runs for a touchdown. RULING: Six points for Team A. Team B begins its possession series after the try. [Cited by 3-1-3-e]
  4. Team A’s field goal attempt is blocked and does not cross the neutral zone. A23 recovers the ball and is tackled beyond the line to gain. RULING: Team A retains the ball to continue its possession series. First and 10. [Cited by 3-1-3-e]
  5. On first, second or third down, Team A’s field goal attempt is blocked and does not cross the neutral zone. A23 recovers the ball and is tackled short of the line to gain. RULING: Team A’s ball, next down. [Cited by 3-1-3-e]
  6. During the first possession series of a period, Team B gains possession and then loses possession to Team A, which (a) scores a touchdown; (b) does not score a touchdown. RULING: (a) The score counts. In both (a) and (b), Team A’s possession series ends and Team B begins its possession series. [Cited by 3-1-3-e]
  7. During the first possession series of a period, Team A fumbles into Team B’s end zone on second down of a series. Team B recovers and downs the ball in its end zone. RULING: Team A’s possession series is ended. Team B begins its possession series. [Cited by 3-1-3-e]
  8. During the first possession series of a period, B10 intercepts a forward pass on his six-yard line and downs the ball in his end zone. RULING: Safety: two points for Team A. Team A’s possession series is over. Team B will put the ball in play, first and 10 on the 25-yard line at the same end of the field. [Cited by 3-1-3-e]
  9. Team A’s field-goal attempt is untouched beyond the neutral zone until B17 muffs it at the five-yard line. A75 recovers at the three-yard line. RULING: Team A’s possession series continues; first down for Team A at the three-yard line. [Cited by 3-1-3-e]
  10. On the first possession series of a period, Team A scores a touchdown. On the try, Team B intercepts a pass and returns it for a two-point touchdown. RULING: Team B starts its possession series at the 25-yard line with Team A leading in the overtime score 6-2. [Cited by 3-1-3-f]
  11. After the end of the first possession series by Team A, Team B commits a dead-ball foul. RULING: Team B starts its possession series on the 40-yard line, first and 10. [Cited by 3-1-3-g]
  12. During the first possession series of a period, A12 throws a forward pass and Team A is flagged for an illegal shift. B25 intercepts the pass, and B38 clips before B25 crosses Team A’s goal line. RULING: Score not allowed. The fouls offset and the down is not repeated. Team A’s possession series is ended, and Team B begins its possession series at the 25-yard line. The penalty is not carried over. [Cited by 3-1-3-g]
  13. During the second possession series of a period, B25 intercepts a pass and carries the ball across Team A’s goal line. During the run, B79 clips at midfield. RULING: No touchdown. Either the game is over, or the next period will start with first and 10 at the 25-yard line, since the penalty is not carried over. [Cited by 3-1-3-g]
  14. During the first possession series B37 intercepts a forward pass and has a clear field to the goal line when he makes an obscene gesture toward the nearest opponent. RULING: Team B’s score is cancelled and the penalty is carried over. Team B begins its possession series on the 40-yard line, first and 10. (Rules 3-1-3, 10-2-7-a and 10-2-7-b). [Cited by 3-1-3-g]