Questions of the Week – Preseason

By Bruce Maurer

1. While running the Rules meeting in Butler County we were discussing the play in which a ball carrier is hit and loses his helmet and fumbles at roughly the same time. I refuse to use the word simultaneously, because I feel as though something happened first. I see on page 42 of the gold book it states if the runner is hit & fumbles “simultaneously” with losing his helmet the ball is dead. Can you please explain the reasoning for this. When he loses possession of the ball, he is no longer a ball carrier. Thus keeping the ball live, but keeping him out of the play. We are asked to make tough decisions on timing in the game of football in many plays, and this should be no different. For example, was his knee down before the ball came out. Didn’t one or the other truly happen first; either he lost the ball or his helmet first?

This play happened in Canton several years ago. Beau contacted Bob Colgate, NFHS FB National Rules Interpreter due to the uniqueness of the play. Bob’s ruling was the Ball is Dead if there is a fumble simultaneous with the runner’s helmet coming off. Ball remains in possession of Team A — the runner’s team. The Crew ruled “simultaneous” or “at the same time” so that was why OHSAA needed an interpretation. We have the video clip of the play — from the angle it is difficult to determine if in fact it was simultaneous, BUT that is what they ruled.​

Interestingly, I received a video clip recently of a onside kick with a fair catch signal — 2 players catch the KO — looking at it multiple times I believe that these teammates caught the ball at the same time — I agree with you, it is rare. As you know in Rule 2, “simultaneous” catch refers to “opponents” so technically we have to use other verbiage.

2. At our local meeting last night one of our local crews mentioned that they had encountered a drone at one of the scrimmages they worked. We explained that this was permitted for regular season games by rule. However, the question arose as to how to handle a situation where a ball in play (punt, kick, pass, etc) makes contact with the drone. I have searched for an answer but, as yet, have not found one. Would we simply replay the down from the previous spot? Can you advise me how OHSAA would like us to proceed with such and incident if it should occur.

This is the same as hitting a dog. You would use the inadvertant whistle rule and replay the down.