4v4 Flag Football

Last update: February, 2014



Attendance at the Captain’s Meeting is mandatory! If a team fails to attend the meeting, they are subject to being dropped from the league and replaced by teams on the waiting list.
The Intramural Sports Department will not hold spots.

The forfeit deposit of $25/team must be paid at time of the captains meeting. The acceptable forms of payment are cash only!

Schedules for league play will be posted on the IM Leagues and will be available generally 2-4 days before your league is scheduled to start.

Please feel free to contact the Campus Recreation Office or the Intramural Coordinator, Carl Birch with any questions or concerns at 910-814-5513.


Please use the Captain’s Handbook as a resource throughout the year. If you are team captain, please inform your players of all of the guidelines in the handbook BEFORE your first contest.

Game time is forfeit time.
Teams are responsible for keeping their spectators under control. Misconduct of spectators, players, or coaches can result in assessment of a penalty, ejection, or forfeit of the game. Spectators must also remain in the area designated by the officials. The officials shall have the power to make decisions on any matters or questions not specifically covered in the rules.

The NIRSA Flag Football Rules will govern play for any rule not mentioned in the following 4-on-4 rules:

1.1 A team shall consist of four players. A team must have at least three players to start, and must maintain three players to continue. The game shall be considered a default if there are less than 3 players.
1.2 The field will be 40 yards long and 25 yards wide with 5-yard end-zones.

2.1 Rubber cleated shoes will be allowed. Open toe, open heel, or hard soled shoes will not be allowed. No metal cleats!
2.2 Pants and/or shorts with belt loops and/or pockets are strictly prohibited. A player may not turn his/her shorts inside out if the inseam of the pocket is visible and flops. Players may NOT wear shorts/pants with zippers or pockets
2.3 No jewelry or rubber bands may be worn. Exception: Medical Alert tags may be worn. No hats or bandanas may be worn by any player on the field.

3.1 Games will consist of two 18-minute halves with a three-minute half time. Timing will be continuous for the entire first half and the first 17 minutes of the second half. Only team time-outs and official time-outs can stop the clock. Approximately one minute before the end of the end of the second half, the referee shall stop the clock and inform both captains of the time left on the clock. The clock will restart on the snap. If a team is leading by 33 points or more (45 points or more in Co-Rec) at the five-minute mark of the second half, the mercy rule will go into effect and the game will be over. The clock will stop during the final minute of the second half for:
a. Incomplete pass – clock restarts on the snap
b. Out of bounds – clock restarts on the snap
c. Penalties - clock restarts depending on the result of the previous play
d. Score – clock restarts on opponent’s next snap from scrimmage
e. Time-Outs – clock restarts on the snap
f. Touchback – clock restarts on the snap
g. First downs – clock restarts depending on the previous play
h. Change of possession – clock restarts on the snap
3.2 One time-out per half is permitted for each team. An unused first half time-out does not carry over into the second half.
3.3 Once the official whistles the ball ready for play, the offense has 25 seconds to snap the ball.

4.1 Touchdowns will be worth 6 points (possibly 9 in Co-Rec). A PAT try from 5 yards out is worth 1 point while a try from 10 yards out is worth 2 points.
4.2 The defensive team may return a PAT for 2 points regardless of whether it was a try for 1 or 2 points.

5.1 The game will start from scrimmage on a team’s own 5-yard line.
5.2 Teams will have four downs to score a touchdown.
5.3 The ball must be snapped in one continuous motion, not necessarily between the center’s legs.
5.4 The ball must be snapped from the spot designated by the ball marker.
5.5 The offensive team must have at least one player on the line of scrimmage at the snap.
5.6 The ball is put into play at the five-yard line after a score.
5.7 A team scoring a safety will receive two points and the ball on its own 5-yard line.
5.8 There will be no punts. If the offense fails to score, the ball will be placed on the defense’s 5-yard line with a change of possession.
5.9 One blitz is allowed per possession. A blitz is an all-out rush by any number of defensive players before the quarterback throws or hands the ball to another player before the defense completes
its 5-second count. No player may rush until the official has completed the 5-second count if the blitz has been used
5.9.1 The count shall be “1-onethousand, 2-onethousand, 3-onethousand, 4-onethousand, Go!” This does not apply to the one blitz possession or plays in which the quarterback passes or hands off the ball before the 5-second count is completed. PENALTY: The offense has the choice of the result of the play or five yards from the previous spot and replaying the down.
5.9.2 If the defensive team rushes before the completions of the 5-second count, the play shall continue and count as the team’s one blitz for that possession. PENALTY: If the blitz has been used, the offense has the choice of the result of the play or five yards from the previous spot and replaying the down.

5.10 The offensive team is allowed ONE running play, outside the opponent’s 5-yard line, per possession. RUNNING PLAYS ARE NOT ALLOWED DURING A PAT ATTEMPT. A play is deemed running or passing by the way the line of scrimmage is INITIALLY broken. PENALTY: Illegal Procedure, five yards, and loss of down/try.
5.11 When an offensive team is at or inside the opponent’s 5-yard line, the defensive team may blitz from the line of scrimmage on every play, if it chooses, as long as the line of scrimmage is inside of the 5-yard line.

5.12 The offensive team can throw multiple passes behind the line of scrimmage per down. If the ball is caught behind the line of scrimmage and the player runs, the play counts as a running play. However, a forward pass competed beyond the line of scrimmage, may be pitched or lateraled behind the line of scrimmage, and still advance. However, only ONE forward pass can break the line of scrimmage.
5.13 Should the defense possess the football (i.e. interception, etc.) the defense team will possess the ball from the end of the run.
6.1 There will be no overtime during the regular season
6.2 Overtime shall be played during the playoffs and the format will be repeated until a winner is decided. The winner of the toss shall be given the option of either offense or defense. If additional periods are necessary, the loser of the toss gets the option of offense or defense for the second time and the captains will alternate accordingly for each overtime period.
6.3 Each team will be given 3 downs from the 10-yard line to score a touchdown until the game is decided.
6.4 Each team is entitled to one time-out for the entire overtime period. The time-out from the end of regulation may not be carried over into the overtime period.

7.1 A team shall consist of the following combinations: 2 males/2 females, 2 males/1 female, or 1 male/2 females.
7.2 A touchdown thrown, caught, or run into the endzone by a female is worth 9 points. Should a male throw a legal pass to a female who then laterals to a male and the male scores, the touchdown is only worth 6 points.
7.3 There may not be two consecutive male-to-male completions beyond the line of scrimmage. For example, if a male passer throws a completed forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage to another male, the next legal, completed forward pass beyond the line scrimmage for positive yards must involve a female as the thrower or receiver. In regards to multiple passes, the final pass across the line of scrimmage will be the determining factor for open/closed. PENALTY: Illegal Forward Pass, 5 yards, and loss of down.
7.4 An offensive male runner cannot advance the ball through the offensive team’s scrimmage line. There are no restrictions if: during a run by a male runner once the ball has been possessed beyond the line of scrimmage if the line as legally been broken; during a run by a female runner; and after a change of possession. PENALTY: Illegal Procedure, 5 yards, and loss of down.
7.5 Mercy rule will be in effect when a team is winning by 45 points or more with five minutes left in the game.
7.6 Penalties, whether accepted or declined, have no effect on whether the play is open or closed.



1. Required equipment worn illegally
2. Delay of game
3. Illegal snap
4. False start
5. Encroachment (Illegal Blitz)
6. Illegal male advancement (5 yards from previous spot and loss of down)
7. Illegal forward pass (5 yards from spot of the foul and loss of down)
8. Intentional grounding (5 yards from the spot of the foul and loss of down)
9. Helping the runner: the runner shall not grasp a teammate or be grasped, pulled or pushed by a teammate (5 yards from spot of the foul and loss of down)
10. Delaying the start of either half
11. Illegal participation
12. Offensive pass interference (Only a loss of down, no penalty yards assessed)
13. Defensive pass interference (Five yards from the previous spot and replay down)
14. Illegally secure flag belt (Touchdown /PAT/change of possession nullified, 5 yards from previous spot, and loss of down)
15. Unsportsmanlike conduct (10 yards from the succeeding spot)
16. Attempt to steal the ball from the carrier (5 yards from the succeeding spot)
17. Hurdling (5 yards from spot of the foul)
18. Roughing the passer (5 yards from the succeeding spot and replay the down)
19. Illegal contact
20. Guarding the flag belt and stiff-arming (5 yards from spot of foul and repeat down)
21. Illegal flag belt removal (5 yards from succeeding spot and repeat down)
22. Illegal equipment
23. Flagrant unsportsmanlike conduct (Disqualification) (10 yards from the succeeding spot)
24. Flagrant personal foul (Disqualification) (10 yards from the succeeding spot)


1. ROUGHING THE PASSER –Defensive players must make a definite effort to avoid charging into a passer after it is clear the ball has been thrown forward legally. No defensive player shall contact the passer who is standing still or fading back as he/she is considered out of the play after the pass. Slapping the ball while the quarterback is attempting to pass is considered roughing the passer, as the ball is considered an extension of the arm (while still in possession). Roughing the passer restrictions do not apply if the forward pass is thrown from beyond Team A’s scrimmage line but illegal contact can still be called.
Penalty: 10 yards and automatic first down. This penalty will be tacked on to the end of the run on a completed pass, if accepted.

2. FLAG GUARDING –Runners shall not flag guard by using their hands, arms, or the ball to deny the opponent an opportunity to pull or remove the flag belt. Flag guarding includes:
A. Placing or swinging the hand or arm over the flag belt to prevent an opponent from deflagging.
B. Placing the ball in possession over the flag belt to prevent an opponent from deflagging.
C. Lowering the shoulders in such a manner that places the arm over the flag belt to prevent an opponent from deflagging.
D. Any other act, besides spinning and various other types of hip movement, to prevent an opponent from deflagging.
Penalty: 10 yards (spot of foul).

3. PASS INTERFERENCE –During a down in which a legal forward pass crosses Team A’s scrimmage line, contact which interferes with an eligible receiver who is beyond Team A’s scrimmage line is pass interference unless it occurs when 2 or more eligible receivers make a simultaneous and legitimate attempt to reach, catch, or bat a pass. It is also pass interference if an eligible receiver is deflagged prior to touching the ball on a pass thrown beyond Team A’s scrimmage line. Offensive pass interference may be called at any time after the ball is snapped. Defensive pass interference, however, can only be called during the time of a pass attempt.
Offensive Pass Interference –Penalty: 10 yards (previous spot) and loss of down.
Defensive Pass Interference –Penalty: 10 yards (previous spot) and replay the down

4. LEGAL CATCH / SIMULTANEOUS CATCH –A catch is the act of establishing player possession of a live ball in flight, and first contacting the ground inbounds or being contacted by an opponent in such a way that he/she is prevented from returning to the ground inbounds while maintaining possession of the ball.
A. One foot is required to be inbounds (while in player possession). Additionally, a catch by a kneeling or prone inbounds player is a completion.
B.A simultaneous catch or recovery is a catch in which there is joint possession of a live ball by opposing players who are inbounds. The ball will be blown dead at that spot and possession will be awarded to the offense.

5. FUMBLES -A fumble is a loss of player possession of the ball other than by handing, passing or punting the ball. A fumbled ball that hits the ground is dead at that spot.

6. FACE GUARDING –Any act by a player to inhibit an opponent’s (usually a potential receiver) ability to see the ball and/or other players is considered face guarding. Face guarding is illegal. Penalty: Pass Interference

A. The offensive team captain is responsible for notifying the Referee when they wish to punt on 4th down. The Referee will then announce this decision to both teams. All punts will be a protected scrimmage kick (no rushing by the offense or defense). A team may request to punt on any down.
B. All fake punts are ILLEGAL. Penalty: Illegal Kick, 10 yards (spot of foul).

8.15 YARDS AFTER READY FOR PLAY –At any time after the ready for play whistle and prior to the snap, all offensive players must be within 15 yards from the ball (orange ball spotter). This is to prevent offensive players from “sneaking” onto the field and staying near the sideline just before the ball is snapped, which would in many cases, leave that particular player uncovered with a clear path to the end zone.
Penalty: Illegal Participation, 10 yards (previous spot).

9. OFFSIDES / ENCROACHMENT –The first offender rule is in effect when it comes to encroachment. This means that the moment a player from either team enters the neutral zone (after the ready for play whistle) he/she shall be called for the penalty. This is a dead ball foul, so play should be whistled dead immediately after the encroachment occurs.
Penalty: 5 yards.

10. SCREEN BLOCKING –This is legal as long as the following guidelines are followed:
A. The blocker’s arms must be kept at his/her side, in front of his/her waist, or behind his/her back.
B. The blocker may not initiate contact with a defender. A penalty occurs when contact is initiated and there is an advantage gained. Penalty: Illegal contact, 10 yards (spot of foul).

11. SNAP REGULATIONS –To start every play there must be a snap.
A. A snap must be one smooth, quick, and continuous motion, either between the snapper’s legs or from the side. The ball must leave the snapper’s hand(s) during this motion. After the snapper takes his initial position over the ball, he/she may move or rotate the ball. After the snapper comes to a set position, he/she may not move the ball again until it is snapped.
Penalty: Dead Ball, Illegal Snap, 5 yards. The player who receives the snap must be at least two (2) yards behind the offensive scrimmage line. Direct snaps are illegal. Penalty: Live Ball, Illegal Snap, 5 yards.

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