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College Football/Punt downed at goal line

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Question
When the punting team punts the ball and a player from the punting team is standing in the end zone an the ball never crosses the goal line an he knock the ball to the 3 yard line is this a touch back or is the ball placed at the 3 yard line. what rule applies to this situation.  Thanks

Answer
Gary there are two spots on your play - the illegal touching spot [ the spot where Team A 1st touches the ball) and the spot where the kick ends.  Team A kicks/punts the ball [this is a scrimmage kick].  In your pay the ball never crosses the goal line so it remains in the field of play.  Therefore it cannot be a touch back.  Team A touches the ball while in the field of play [knocks the ball].  This touching by A is an illegal touching spot [no penalty attaches, it is a spot that Team B, the Receiving team has the option of taking the ball].  The ball is 'knocked' back to the 3 yard line.  Is this spot where the kick ends or where it is first possessed by a team, if so then that is the end of the kick.  I also assume there was no return so that is the dead ball spot.  Team B has the option tang the ball at the 3 yard lime or the spot where it was illegally touched.

This is not a touchback.  Rule 6 applies.

NCAA Rule 6 Section 3 and illegal touching exceptions.  The Rulebook does not specifically sate a Team A player may stand in the EZ, but the rule is 6-3-11 and the spot of the touching is what is referred to. Also there are several test questions that support your position which is correct.

SECTION 3. Scrimmage Kicks
Behind the Neutral Zone
ARTICLE 1. a. A scrimmage kick that fails to cross the neutral zone continues in play. All players may catch or recover the ball behind the neutral zone and advance it (A.R. 6-3-1-I-III).
b. The blocking of a scrimmage kick by an opponent of the kicking team who is not more than three yards beyond the neutral zone is considered to have occurred within or behind that zone (Rule 2-10-5).

Beyond the Neutral Zone
ARTICLE 2. a. No inbounds player of the kicking team shall touch a scrimmage kick that has crossed the neutral zone before it touches an opponent. Such illegal touching is a violation that, when the ball becomes dead, gives the receiving team the privilege of taking the ball at the spot of the violation (Exception: Rules 6-3-4 and 8-4-2-b) (A.R. 2-11-2-I and A.R. 6-3-2-I).
b. If a penalty incurred by either team before the ball becomes dead is enforced or there are offsetting fouls, the privilege is canceled (Exception: Rule 8-4-2-b)(A.R. 6-3-2-I-VI, A.R. 6-3-11-I-III and A.R. 10-1-4-VIII).
c. Illegal touching in Team Aís end zone is ignored.

All Become Eligible
ARTICLE 3. When a scrimmage kick that has crossed the neutral zone touches a player of the receiving team who is inbounds, any player may catch or recover the ball (Rule 6-3-1-b) (Exception: Rules 6-3-4 and 6-5-1-b).

Forced Touching Disregarded
ARTICLE 4. a. A player blocked by an opponent into a scrimmage kick that has crossed the neutral zone shall not, while inbounds, be deemed to have touched the kick (A.R. 6-3-4-I, II and IV).
b. An inbounds player touched by a ball batted by an opponent is not deemed to have touched the ball (A.R. 6-3-4-III).

Catch or Recovery by Receiving Team
ARTICLE 5. If a scrimmage kick is caught or recovered by a player of the receiving team, the ball continues in play (Exceptions: Rules 4-1-3-g, 6-3-9, 6-5-1 and 2) (A.R. 8-4-2-IX).

Catch or Recovery by Kicking Team
ARTICLE 6. a. If a player of the kicking team catches or recovers a scrimmage kick that has crossed the neutral zone, the ball becomes dead (A.R. 6-3-1-V). The ball belongs to the receiving team at the dead-ball spot, unless the kicking team is in legal possession when the ball is declared dead. In the latter case, the ball belongs to the kicking team.
b. When opposing players, each eligible to touch the ball, simultaneously recover a rolling kick or catch a scrimmage kick, the simultaneous possession makes the ball dead. A kick declared dead in joint possession of opposing players is awarded to the receiving team (Rules 2-2-8 and 4-1-3-l).

Out of Bounds Between Goal Lines or at Rest Inbounds
ARTICLE 7. If a scrimmage kick goes out of bounds between the goal lines or comes to rest inbounds and no player attempts to secure it, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the receiving team at the dead-ball spot (Exception: Rule 8-4-2-b).

Out of Bounds Behind Goal Line
ARTICLE 8. If a scrimmage kick (other than one that scores a field goal) goes out of bounds behind a goal line, the ball becomes dead and belongs to the team defending that goal line (Rule 8-4-2-b).

Touching Ground On or Behind Goal Line
ARTICLE 9. The ball becomes dead and belongs to the team defending its goal line when a scrimmage kick that has crossed the neutral zone is subsequently untouched by Team B before touching the ground on or behind Team Bís goal line (Rule 8-4-2-b)(A.R. 6-3-9-I-III and A.R. 8-4-2-IV).

Loose Behind the Goal Line
ARTICLE 11. If a scrimmage kick untouched by Team B after crossing the neutral zone is batted in Team Bís end zone by a player of Team A, it is a violation for illegal touching (Rule 6-3-2). The spot of the violation is Team Bís 20-yard line, which may be a penalty enforcement spot for fouls by Team A during the kick play (Rules 6-3-13 and 10-2-4) (Exception: Rule 8-4-2-b) (A.R. 6-3-11-I-III and A.R 2-11-2-I).  

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