Another Batch of Questions!

By Ray Dunlap

Result 6: Ballcarrier gains 13 yds, then fumbles; ball bounces 12 more yds towards defense’s goal, recovered there by o5.

Ballcarrier gets on rushing attempt for 13 yards and a fumble.  The other yardage is incidental.

Result 5: Bad snap goes through QB’s legs, o11 recovers for 3 yd loss

This is actually a fumble charged to the center!  The QB gets credited for one run for zero yards (there has to be a run, pass or sack on every offensive play).  All yardage is incidental.  Now, if the snap had gone 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and the Fullback recovered it and ended up with a 3 yard loss, he would be credited with fumble recovery yardage, but there is no offensive yardage calculated on that play!

Result 8: QB fumbles snap, o4 falls on ball for 1 yd gain

One rushing attempt for the QB for zero yards and a fumble.  The fact that the ball was advanced one yard before the center recovered it is counted as incidental yardage.

Result 10: Center snaps ball one count early, ball pops into air and is caught by d2 at line, he returns it 1 yd

One run for zero yards for the QB and a fumble lost.  The defensive tackle gets credited with a fumble recovery and a on yard fumble return.

Result 11: Ballcarrier fumbles handoff, ball rolls behind him, he falls on it in end zone, safety

One rushing attempt for the QB for zero yards and a fumble.  The remaining yardage is incidental and not counted for statistical purposes.


More Rules Questions from Phil

Now RP2.

Result 3: QB fumbles snap, picks ball up & laterals in desperation to o2, who attempts pass

For the QB to lateral the ball, he had to have control of it, and if the o2 received the lateral it is implied that is was a legal backwards pass.  And, any player is allowed to attempt a forward pass, so the pass would be legal.  This would be scored simply as one passing attempt by the offensive tackle.

Result 6: While faking handoff, QB bumps into another back, he retains possession but loses 4 yds

Again, this will be an official scorer’s judgment call.  If he believes that the fake handoff was on a play designed to be a pass, then the QB is charged with one sack for -4 yards.  If, however, the scorer believes the QB was attempting a rush, the QB would be given one rushing attempt for -4 yards.

Result 9: Ball carrier fumbles in backfield, ball bounces away, he recovers it while running towards own goal, is tackled for 20 yd loss

Since the ball carrier had possession, fumbled and recovered his own fumble, he is charged with one rushing attempt for -20 yards.



A Few More Football Scoring Questions

By Ray Dunlap

Phil asks the following questions:

“OK, I’m going to work through all the RP results that, over the years, I was never that sure on how to record them statistically! I’ll start with RP1.”


Result 3: QB mishandles snap, ball pops loose and, after mad scramble, he recovers it for 33 yd loss

Because the QB never had control of the ball, it is scored as one rushing attempt for the QB for zero yards and a TEAM fumble.  All other lost yardage is incidental.

Result 4: Loose fumbled handoff is picked up by o6 (o6 attempts pass etc)

Because the QB had control of the ball and the running-back did not, the QB is given one rushing attempt for zero yards and a fumble.  The fumble yardage is incidental. 

Result 8: QB slips and falls while attempting handoff, loses 3 yds

QB is charged with one rushing attempt for -3 yards.

Result 9: Broken play, QB collides with another back and fumbles, d3 recovers 8 yds behind line

This is a judgment call for the official scorer.  If he believes that the quarterback’s intention was to hand the ball off to a running-back, then the QB is charged with one rushing attempt for zero yards and a fumble.   If, however, the scored believed the QB was the intended runner and inadvertently collided with another player, then the QB would be charged with a rushing attempt for whatever yardage was lost at the spot of the fumble.  All other yardage is incidental, and not accounted for.


NOTE:  The player who last had clear possession of the ball is always credited with a fumble.  This is why quarterbacks routinely lead the league in fumbles, and, with the exception of the Rare Plays, APBA really has no efficient way to replicate this.  They give extra fumble numbers to the QB in his Run column, which isn’t really fair.  Because, if a QB takes a snap, controls the ball, and then pitches it to another player who fails to maintain control and fumbles it, it is the quarterback who gets credited with the fumble!

More Questions . . . . More Answers!

Do fair catches count as a punt return for stat purposes?

No.  Fair catches are a separate statistical category.

How do you treat running into kicker (5-yard penalty) and illegal block on return team?

Since both penalties are on the receiving team, it is the kicking team’s choice.  They can select either penalty, whichever they feel is most beneficial to them.

How do you score Time of Possession (TOP) when punt returner fumbles and offensive team recovers?

Since time-of-possession does not start until the first offensive play following a punt, and since the punt receiving team did not, in this example, actually run a play from scrimmage, the kicking team is credited for all the time-of-possession as if they never gave up the ball.

How would you score net yardage for a 41 yard punt with holding on the offensive team during the return?

No penalty yardage is taken into consideration when calculating the “net” punting yardage.  So, if the punter kicks a 41 yarder and the receiving team returns it 10 yards, normally that would be a net punt of 31 yards.  If, however, a holding penalty (illegal block) occurred 7 yards into the 10 yard return, here’s how you score it.  The return man now only gets credited for a 7 yard return – the additional 3 yards are ignored.  Then, the ten yard penalty for the Hold is marked off from the spot of the foul, which would end up 3 yards behind where the punt was fielded.  But, since penalties are ignored when calculating net punting average, this would result in a net punt of 34 yards (41 minus 7).

Are all defensive penalties on an offensive scoring play assessed on the ensuing kickoff?


If the punt returner fumbles after a 17-yard gain and the fumble is recovered by the kicking team, is any Time of Possession awarded to the receiving (punt return) team?

None of it is.  Time-of-possession does not begin for the team receiving a punt until they actually run an offensive play from scrimmage.

How much net yardage does the punter receive whenever a fair catch interference penalty occurs?

Fair catch interference assumes that the punt returner would have caught the ball at a particular yard line, so, net yardage, in this case, would be equal to the punt distance.  The penalty has no impact.

Can defensive offsides (kicking team) be declined on a kickoff?


How do you score a play when a player recovers a fumble and runs for a touchdown?

Fumble return yardage is not counted as rushing or passing yardage – it is miscellaneous yardage and has no impact on total offense or total defense.  The only exception to this is if the fumbling player recovers his own fumble.  In that case all fumble return yardage would just be an extension of the rushing, receiving or return yardage he is already credited for on that play.

Always keep in mind the “Dave Casper-Marv Hubbard” rule.  On a play from scrimmage, if an offensive player fumbles anywhere on the field during fourth down, only the fumbling player is permitted to recover and/or advance the ball.  Also, if any player fumbles after the two-minute warning in a half, only the fumbling player is permitted to recover and/or advance the ball. If recovered by any other offensive player, the ball is dead at the spot of the fumble unless it is recovered behind the spot of the fumble.  In that case, the ball is dead at the spot of recovery.  Any defensive player may recover and/or advance any fumble at any time.

Would a punter receive zero or -3 net yards on a 40-yard punt with a 43-yard return?

-3 net yards.

Is holding on a punt return enforced at the spot of the foul or where the punt was caught?

From the spot of the foul.  And, keep in mind that the returner only gets credit to a return up to the spot of the foul.  So, if a punt returner had a 50 yard return, but the foul occurred 9 yards downfield, he would only be credited with a 9-yard return.  If the foul happened 9 yards downfield, but the returner only had a 4-yard return, he gets credited for a 4 yard return.

Ask Ray . . . Football Rules and Scoring Questions

If you have football scoring or rules questions, please direct them to me.  Having been the head statistician for the Tampa Bay Bucs for a number of years back in the 1980’s, and also the head statistician for the 1984 Super Bowl (Redskins-Raiders), I have probably seen just about every iteration of how to score certain plays or how to understand different NFL rules.

So, if you are curious about how to interpret a ruling, or, if you’re just trying to win a bet with your buddy, feel free to reach out to me through this website and we’ll get you the answers you want.

Just hit the reply button at the bottom of this post and give me your questions.  All inquiries will be answered in this forum.

Ray Dunlap

Our first three “rules” questions . . .

First of all, let me share with everyone out there that I am happy to provide answers to your football scoring and rules questions.  We got our first three inquiries today from Jim, so here goes:


1. Time of Possession – is a punt on 4th down attributed to the kicking team’s Time of Possession?

Yes.  Time of possession after a punt starts on the first offensive play from scrimmage.  It is, however, different on kick-offs.  Since the clock does not start until the receiving team touches the ball, time of possession begins on a kick-off as soon as a return starts.


2. Is a sack and the minus yardage it’s own stat or does it come off the passing or rushing stats?

OK, sacks are an actual NFL stat, and so are the yards lost.  But, when tabulating the team stats at the end of a game, you would subtract sack yardage from passing yardage to determine the total number of passing yards to credit each team.

Now, if, in the opinion of the official scorer, the quarterback was attempting a run and was tackled behind the line of scrimmage, it is NOT a sack.  The exception to this is when it is clear that the team was attempting a pass and the quarterback scrambled and got tackled for no gain or a loss.  This is still a sack.  So, when you’re playing APBA Football and you get a scramble number and it results in either no gain or a loss, you should count that as a sack.

If you are playing APBA college teams, it is completely different.  The NCAA does not recognize sacks.  Any yardage lost when a passer is tackled behind the line of scrimmage is considered RUSHING yardage.  So, the quarterback would be given one rushing attempt for whatever negative yardage occurs on the play.


3. Last, a QB scramble, I assume, is a rushing stat, correct?

Again, not necessarily.  If the scramble results in 0 yards or lost yardage, it is not a run, it is a sack.  If, however, the quarterback gets positive yardage on his scramble, it is considered a rushing attempt.