NCAA Rule 8 – Scoring

SECTION 5. Safety


ARTICLE 1. How Scored


It is a safety when:

  1. 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 his own goal line, or becomes dead by rule, and the defending team is responsible for the ball being there. (A.R. 6-3-1:IV) (A.R. 7-2-4:I) (A.R. 8-5-1:I-II, IV and VI-X) (A.R. 8-7-2:II) (A.R. 9-4-1:VIII)
    When in question, it is a touchback, not a safety.
    Exception: It is not a safety if a player between his five-yard line and his goal line:

    1. intercepts a pass or fumble; or recovers an opponent’s fumble or backward pass; or catches or recovers an opponent’s kick; and

    2. his original momentum carries him into his own end zone; and

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

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

  2. An accepted penalty for a foul leaves the ball on or behind the offending team’s goal line. (Exception: Rules 10-2-7-c and 10-2-7-a). (A.R. 8-5-1:III) (A.R. 10-2-2:VI)

Approved ruling 8-5-1


  1. 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. [Cited by 2-9-2, 4-2-4-a, 5-1-3-a-1, 8-5-1-a]
  2. 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 8-7-2-a). [Cited by 8-5-1-a, 8-7-2-a]
  3. B1 intercepts a legal forward pass (not a try) deep in his end zone, and advances but does not get out of the end zone, where he is downed. During the run, B2 clips A1 in the end zone. RULING: Safety, since the penalty leaves the ball in Team B’s possession in the end zone. [Cited by 8-5-1-b]
  4. 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. [Cited by 8-5-1-a]
  5. 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. Before the ball is declared dead, B2 clips in the end zone. B1 does not get out of the end zone, and the ball is declared dead. RULING: Safety by penalty. The basic spot is the end of the run where B1 gained possession between the five-yard line and goal line, and the foul is behind the basic spot.
  6. 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 8-7-2-a). [Cited by 8-5-1-a, 8-7-2-a]
  7. 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 4-2-4-d). [Cited by 2-31-3-c, 4-2-4-d, 8-5-1-a]
  8. 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). [Cited by 8-5-1-a, 8-7-2-a]
  9. 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) [Cited by 8-5-1-a]
  10. 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) [Cited by 8-5-1-a]

ARTICLE 2. Kick After Safety


After a safety is scored, the ball belongs to the defending team at its own 20-yard line, and that team shall put the ball in play on or between the hash marks by a free kick that may be a punt, drop kick or place kick (Exception: Extra-period and try rules).