NCAA RULE 3 Periods, Time Factors and Substitutions

SECTION 4. Delays/Clock Tactics


ARTICLE 1. Delaying the Start of a Half



  1. Each team shall have its players on the field for the opening play at the scheduled time for the beginning of each half. When both teams refuse to enter the field first for the start of either half, the home team must be the first to enter.

  2. PENALTY –
    15 yards from the succeeding spot [S21].

  3. The home management is responsible for clearing the field of play and end zones at the beginning of each half so the periods may start at the scheduled time. Bands, speeches, presentations, homecoming and similar activities are under the jurisdiction of home management and a prompt start of each half is mandatory.

  4. PENALTY –
    10 yards from the succeeding spot [S21].

    (Exception: The referee may waive the penalty for circumstances beyond the control of the home management.)

ARTICLE 2. Illegal Delay of the Game



  1. The officials shall make the ball ready for play consistently throughout the game. The play clock will start its count-down from either 40 seconds or 25 seconds, by rule depending on circumstances. A foul for illegal delay occurs if the play clock is at :00 before the ball is put in play (Rule 3-2-4).

  2. Illegal delay also includes:

    1. Deliberately advancing the ball after it is dead.

    2. When a team has expended its three timeouts and commits a Rule 9-2-2-d infraction.

    3. When a team is not ready to play after an intermission between periods, after a score, after a radio/television/team timeout, or any time the referee orders the ball put in play. (A.R. 3-4-2:I)

    4. Defensive verbal tactics that disconcert offensive signals (Rule 7-1-5-a-3).

    5. Defensive actions designed to cause a false start (Rule 7-1-5-a-4).

    6. Putting the ball in play before it is ready for play (Rule 4-1-4).

    7. Sideline interference (Rule 9-2-5).

    8. Action clearly designed to delay the officials from making the ball ready for play (A.R. 3-4-2:II)

PENALTY –
Dead-ball foul. Five yards from the succeeding spot [S7 and S21].

Approved ruling 3-4-2


  1. After any timeout, one of the teams is not ready to play. RULING: Illegal delay. Penalty – Five yards from the succeeding spot. [Cited by 3-4-2-b-3]
  2. On a running play late in the half the Team A ball carrier is tackled inbounds. Team B players are deliberately slow to “unpile” in an obvious attempt to consume time and prevent the officials from making the ball ready for play. RULING: Team B foul for delay of game. Penalty — five yards at the succeeding spot. The game clock will start on the snap (Rule 3-4-3). [Cited by 3-4-2-b-8]

ARTICLE 3. Unfair Clock Tactics


The referee has broad authority in the timing of the game. He shall order the game clock or play clock started or stopped whenever either team conserves or consumes playing time by tactics obviously unfair. This includes starting the game clock on the snap if the foul is by the team ahead in the score. If the game clock is stopped only to complete a penalty for a foul by the team ahead in the score inside the last two minutes of a half, it will start on the snap, at the option of the offended team. The game clock will start on the ready-for-play signal after Team A throws an illegal forward or backward pass to conserve time (Rule 3-3-2-e-14). (A.R. 3-4-3:I-V)

Approved ruling 3-4-3


  1. In an attempt to consume time in the fourth period, Team A stalls and the play clock expires. RULING: Foul for delay of game. Penalty – Five yards from the succeeding spot. The clock starts on the snap. [Cited by 3-4-3]
  2. With two minutes remaining in either half and his team with no timeouts remaining, B77 crosses the neutral zone and touches a Team A player in an effort to conserve time. RULING: Dead-ball foul. Penalty – Five yards from the succeeding spot. The clock starts on the ready-for-play signal. At his discretion, the referee may have the play clock set at 40 seconds. Note: If there is less than one minute remaining in the half, this foul comes under the 10-second runoff rule (Rule 3-4-4). [Cited by 3-4-3]
  3. A ball carrier, late in the second period, throws a backward pass out of bounds from behind or beyond the neutral zone to conserve time. RULING: Penalty – Five yards from the spot of the foul and loss of down. The clock starts on the ready-for-play signal. Note: If there is less than one minute remaining in the half, this foul comes under the 10-second runoff rule (Rule 3-4-4). [Cited by 3-4-3, 7-2-1 Penalty]
  4. A ball carrier throws a forward pass while beyond the neutral zone to conserve time. RULING: Penalty – Five yards from the spot of the foul and loss of down. The clock starts on the ready-for-play signal (Rule 7-3-2 Penalty). Note: If there is less than one minute remaining in the half, this foul comes under the 10-second runoff rule (Rule 3-4-4). [Cited by 3-4-3, 7-3-2 Penalty]
  5. Late in the fourth quarter Team A trails by four points and is driving for a potential score. After a running play on which the ball carrier is tackled inbounds, Team B players are obviously and deliberately slow in letting him get to his feet or otherwise are employing tactics to delay the officials in making the ball ready for play. RULING: Dead-ball foul against Team B, delay of game. When the ball is ready for play, the referee will signal the 25-second clock to start, and the game clock will start on the snap. [Cited by 3-4-3]

ARTICLE 4. 10-second Runoff from Game Clock — Foul



  1. With the game clock running and less than one minute remaining in either half, before a change of team possession if either team commits a foul that causes the clock to stop immediately, the referee will subtract 10 seconds from the game clock at the option of the offended team. The fouls that fall into this category include but are not limited to:

    1. Any foul that prevents the snap (e.g. false start, encroachment, defensive offside by contact in the neutral zone, etc.); (A.R. 3-4-4:III)

    2. Intentional grounding to stop the clock;

    3. Incomplete illegal forward pass;

    4. Backward pass thrown out of bounds to stop the clock;

    5. Any other foul committed with the intent of stopping the clock.

      The offended team may accept the yardage penalty and decline the 10-second runoff. If the yardage penalty is declined, the 10-second runoff is declined by rule.

  2. The 10-second rule does not apply if the game clock is not running when the foul occurs or if the foul does not cause the game clock to stop immediately (e.g., illegal formation).

  3. After the penalty is administered, if there is a 10-second runoff, the game clock starts on the referee’s signal. If there is no 10-second runoff, the game clock starts on the snap. Note: This rule supersedes Rule 3-3-2-f. (A.R. 3-3-2-VIII and IX)

  4. If the fouling team has a timeout remaining they may avoid the 10-second runoff by using a timeout. In this case the game clock starts on the snap after the timeout.

  5. The 10-second runoff does not apply when there are offsetting fouls. (A.R. 3-4-4-IV)

Approved ruling 3-4-4


  1. Second and 10 at the B-30. The game clock is running in the second half. Team A trails by two points and is out of timeouts. After the ball is ready for play lineman A66 commits a false start, and when the officials stop the game clock it reads (a) 13 seconds; (b) 8 seconds. Team B accepts the yardage penalty and the clock runoff. RULING: (a) Five-yard penalty with 10 seconds subtracted from the game clock, which is set at 3 seconds. Second and 15 at the B-35. The clock starts on the referee’s signal. (b) The game is over. Team B wins.
  2. Second and 10 at the B-30. The game clock is running in the second half. Team A trails by two points and is out of timeouts. At the snap Team A has five players in the backfield. A22 carries for a three-yard gain to the B-27. When the ball is declared dead the game clock reads (a) 13 seconds; (b) 8 seconds. RULING: (a) and (b) Five-yard penalty, illegal formation. Second and 15 at the B-35. Because the illegal formation is not a foul that causes the clock to stop, the 10-second runoff does not apply. After the penalty is administered the game clock starts on the referee’s signal.
  3. Team A is leading 24-21 with less than one minute in the game and the game clock running. With the ball ready for play on third and seven at the B-35, tackle B55 jumps across the neutral zone and contacts A77. The officials shut the play down with the game clock showing 0:38. Team B is out of timeouts. RULING: Offside against Team B. Five-yard penalty and a 10-second runoff from the game clock. The game clock is set at 0:28. Third and two at the B-30. The clock starts on the referee’s signal. [Cited by 3-4-4-a-1]
  4. Fourth quarter with the game clock running. Second and five at the B-20. Tackle B77 is in the neutral zone at the snap, but does not make contact. QB A12 rolls out to pass, runs to the B-17 and throws a forward pass, which falls incomplete. The game clock reads 0:15. RULING: Team A illegal forward pass and Team B offside. Offsetting fouls. No 10-second runoff. Second and five at the B-20. The game clock remains at 15 seconds and starts on the snap. [Cited by 3-4-5-d]
  5. Fourth quarter with the game clock running and Team A trailing in the score. Second and 10 at the B-30. Guard A66 in a three-point stance misses the snap count and lurches forward, committing a false start. B77 then commits a dead-ball personal foul or a dead-ball foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. The game clock is stopped with 8 seconds remaining in the game. RULING: The game is over because Team B will accept the 10-second runoff associated with the false start. Thus the penalty for B77’s dead-ball foul is not enforced. If this is B77’s second unsportsmanlike conduct foul, he is disqualified.
    NOTE: If this action occurred at the end of the first half the penalty for B77’s foul would carry over to the second half. Because of the 10-second runoff, by interpretation the dead-ball foul effectively occurs after the half has ended and thus the penalty is carried over.