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The PNFL follows most of the same rules as the National Federation of State High School Associations 

(NFHS), but with a few exceptions. See below for a list of notable NFHS rules adopted by the PNFL, as 

well as the differences between PNFL rules and NFHS rules. Please note, this is not a comprehensive list 

of ALL rules, but just a list of rules that differ from the NFHS, as well as a summary of notable other rules 

the league wants to highlight. If you have any questions, concerns, or need clarification on any rules, 

please email the league at info@pnfl.org.

 

TIMING

Each game will consist of four quarters, with each quarter lasting 12 minutes.

The play clock will last 40 seconds.

- The offensive team has 40 seconds from the time the ball is spotted to start a new play.

- If play has stopped, such as for a timeout, then the offense has 25 seconds from the time the 

referee spots the ball and starts the play clock.

 

The game clock will stop only under the following scenarios:

- During timeouts.

- At the end of a quarter.

- When a ball carrier runs out of bounds.

- On a penalty.

- When a player is injured.

- When a team scores.

- After an incomplete pass.

- When the officials need to measure for a first down.

 

In regards to the above clock stoppage scenarios, please note the following:

- The clock continues to run when the offense gets a first down (same as in NFL) – there is no 

  clock stoppage to reset the chains.

- There is no two minute warning in the PNFL (same as NFHS and NCAA).

 

OVERTIME

- Each team is given one possession beginning at the opposing team’s 25 yard line.

- If after the two overtime periods there is no winner, the game will result in a tie.

 

NOTABLE PENALTIES

The following will incur a 5 yard penalty:

  • Delay of game.
  • Illegal substitution.
  • Encroachment.
  • False start.
  • Illegal formation.
  • Illegal snap.
  • Illegal shift.
  • Illegal motion.
  • Illegal formation.
  • Illegal forward pass.
  • Intentional grounding.
  • Ineligible receiver downfield.
  • Illegal touching.
  • Illegal fair catch.
  • Running into the kicker or holder.

The following will incur a 10 yard penalty:

  • Holding (offensive or defensive).
  • Block in the back.

The following will incur a 15 yard penalty:

  • Unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • Illegal kicking.
  • Illegal blocking.
  • Kick-catch interference.
  • Offensive pass interference (defensive pass interference is a spot foul).
  • Blocking below the waist.
  • Clipping.
  • Chop block.
  • Tripping.
  • Personal foul.
  • Facemask.
  • Illegal helmet contact.
  • Hose collar tackle.
  • Roughing the kicker or holder.
  • Sideline interference (after already receiving a warning upon first offense).

 

NOTABLE RULES

- Defensive pass interference is a spot foul AND an automatic first down (different from

NFHS).

- Offensive pass interference is a 15 yard penalty AND a loss of down (different from NFHS).

- Defensive holding is a 10 yard penalty AND an automatic first down (different from NFHS).

- Personal foul penalties carry a 15 yard penalty and an automatic first down (different from

NFHS).

- We utilize the “outside the tackle box” rule for quarterbacks. If a quarterback intentionally throws the ball out of bounds with no receiver in the area, it will NOT be intentional grounding so long as the quarterback is outside of the tackle box AND the ball crosses the line of scrimmage. If the quarterback is NOT outside the tackle box  and/or the ball doesn't cross the line of scrimmage then an intentional grounding penalty will be enforced.

- The defense may not return an extra point for a score.

- Mercy rule: if at any point a team is ahead by 28 points a running clock will be utilized, but only beginning in the second half. If a mercy rule is enforced but the losing team comes back within 27 points or less then the running clock will no longer be in effect, and regular clock rules will be used.

- There are NO number restrictions. Any player at any position can wear any number.

 

KICKOFFS

- Kickoffs will take place at the kicking team’s 35 yard line.

- If a ball is kicked out of bounds on a kickoff then the receiving team will start their possession 

with the ball spotted at their own 40 yard line (different from NFHS).

- If the ball crosses the goal line on a kickoff, the receiving team has the option of returning the 

kickoff out of the endzone (Unlike NFHS, which utilizes an automatic touchback).

 

NOT ENOUGH PLAYERS TO FIELD A FULL TEAM

-          If a team has 12 or fewer players active for a game, that team – WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE OTHER TEAM’S COACHES/CAPTAINS – may elect to play with fewer than 11 players on the field, but no less than 8 players. In this scenario, the opposing team has to agree to the number of players, and match that number of players on the field at any given time, rather than playing 11 on 10, 11 on 8, etc.

o   For example: Team A has 10 players active for a game. Team A can request permission from Team B to play 8 v 8 (or 9 v 9, 10 v 10…), rather than 11 v 11.

o   If exercising this option, a team may NOT start a game with fewer than 8 players. If a team does not have at least 8 players in time for kickoff, that team must automatically forfeit, and no game will be played.

 

TIEBREAKERS

In determining the league championship matchup, as well as league standings, in the event two or more 

teams are tied with the same overall record, the following order of tiebreakers will apply:

- 1) Head to head matchup result(s)

- 2) Fewest points allowed in head to head matchup(s) ONLY between the teams in the tiebreaker

- 3) Fewest points allowed to all opponents over the entire season

- 4) Most rushing yards over the entire season

- 5) Coin flip