Current Rules

Spring 2023 Marlboro Flag Football League Rules


  1. Before the start of the game, 1 captain and 1 coach from each team meets at midfield for the coin toss to determine who starts with the ball. The visiting team calls the toss. The winner of the coin toss has the choice of offense or defense. The loser of the coin toss has the choice of direction. Possession changes to start the second half to the team that started the game on defense.
  2. The offensive team takes possession of the ball at its 5-yard line and has three plays (3) plays to cross midfield.

If they do not get to mid-field they can either punt the ball or go for it on the 4th down.

If they punt: the opposition will start its drive from its own 5-yard line.

If they go for it and fail to get the 1st down: the defense gets the ball wherever the play has ended or at the LOS where the 4th down play was attempted. If a team crosses midfield, it receives a new set of 4 downs.

  1. If the offense fails to score, the ball changes possession and the new offensive team starts its drive on its own 5-yard line.
  2. Teams change sides after each quarter.
  3. The game is played 6 players versus 6 players. A team may play with only 5 players to start a game. If a team only has 4 players, it will result in a forfeit and a win for the opposing team.
  4. Players jerseys must be tucked into shorts or pants if they hang below the belt line.
  5. Flag belts cannot be the same color as shorts or pants. We will be using yellow flags. Please cut the excess belt.
  6. Only one run plays per four downs. If you are in the 5 yard frozen zone, then it must be a pass play. Exception in the K-2 division:You may run any amount of downs. However in each 4 down series, the run must be executed by a different player.
  7. 9. The snap. Teams may choose to handoff between the legs, shotgun or handoff (from one knee in parallel position to the line of scrimmage)


  1. The field dimensions are 25 yards by 70 yards with two 10-yard end zones, and a midfield line-to-gain. No-run (frozen) zones precede each line-to-gain by 5 yards.
  2. No-run (frozen) zones are in place to prevent teams from conducting power run plays. While in the no-run (frozen) zones (a 5-yard imaginary zone before the midfield and before the end zone), teams cannot run the ball in any fashion. All play must be pass plays, even with a handoff.
  3. Stepping out of the boundary line is considered out of bounds.

4. Each offensive team approaches only TWO no-run (frozen) zones in each drive (one zone 5 yards from the midfield to gain first down and one zone 5 yards from the goal line to score a TD


  1. Games will run four 12 minute quarters on a running clock. There will be one minute between each quarter and two minutes for halftime. The clock will stop however on a scoring play, timeout or injury. In the last minute of the game the clock will be stopped on all dead balls, penalties, scoring, timeouts or injury.
  2. Each time the ball is spotted, a team has 30 seconds to snap the ball. Teams will receive one warning before a delay-of-game penalty is enforced. This 30 seconds includes the huddle time.
  3. Each team has two 30-seconds timeout in each half.
  4. Officials can stop the clock at their discretion.
  5. There is NO overtime in the regular season (Playoffs only).


  1. Touchdown: 6 points
  2. PAT (point after touchdown) 1 point (5-yard line) or 2 points (10-yard line) 
  3. Note: 1 point PAT is pass only; 2 point PAT can be run or pass.
  4. A team that scores a touchdown must declare whether it wishes to attempt a 1-point try conversion (from the 5-yard line) or a 2-point conversion (from the 10-yard line). Any change, once a decision is made to try for the extra point, requires a charged timeout. A decision cannot be changed after a penalty. Interceptions on conversions cannot be returned.
  5. An interception on a PAT can be returned for 2 points
  6. Safety: 2 points
  7. A safety occurs when the ball-carrier is declared down in his/her own end zone. Runners can be called down when their flags are pulled by a defensive player, a flag falls out, they step out of bounds, their knee or arm touches the ground.


  1. ONE Offensive Coach is allowed on the field to direct players, defense cannot have any coaches on the field at the snap. However, this can be made an exception in the K-2 division. Again, you will have 30 seconds to snap the ball, including huddle time.

Live Ball/Dead Ball:

  1. The ball is live at the snap of the ball and remains live until the official whistles the ball dead.
  2. The official will indicate the line of scrimmage.
  3. It is an automatic dead ball foul if any player on defense or offense crosses the line of scrimmage before the snap. The officials may move the offensive or defensive players back behind the line of scrimmage as a courtesy.
  4. A player who gains possession in the air is considered inbounds as long as the first foot comes down in the field of play.
  5. The defense may not mimic the offensive teams signals by trying to confuse the offensive players, while the QB is calling out signals to start the play. This will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct play.
  6. Substitutions may be made on any dead ball.
  7. Any official can whistle the play dead.
  8. Play is ruled “dead” when:

NOTE: There are no fumbles. The ball is spotted where the ball-carrier’s feet were at the time of the fumble.

  1. In the case of an inadvertent whistle, the offense has two options:
  1. A team is allowed to use a timeout to question an official’s rule interpretation. If the official’s ruling is correct, the team will be charged a timeout. If the rule is interpreted incorrectly, the timeout will not be charged and the proper ruling will be enforced. Officials should all agree upon any controversial call in order to give each team the full benefit of each call.


  1. The ball is spotted where the runner’s feet are when the flag is pulled, not where the ball is. Forward progress will be measured by the player’s front foot.
  2. The QB cannot directly run with the ball unless they are being blitzed. One defensive player may choose to blitz the QB once every four downs from seven yards back immediately at the snap.
  3. The defense cannot rush the QB unless they are using their blitz. If a second blitz occurs within the same 4 down, this will result in the replay of the down.
  4. Direct handoffs behind the line of scrimmage are permitted. Handoffs may be in front, behind or to the side of the offensive player but must be behind the line of scrimmage. The offense may use multiple handoffs.
  5. “Center sneak” play is not allowed. The QB is not allowed to handoff to the center on the first handoff of the play.

Laterals are Legal behind the line of scrimmage.

No-run Zones are located 5 yards before each end zone and 5 yards on either side of midfield are designed to avoid short-yardage power running situations. Teams are not allowed to run in these zones.

(Reminder: Each offensive team will approach only TWO no-run (frozen) zones in each drive – one 5 yards from the midfield line to gain the first down and the other 5 yards from the goal to score a TD).

  1. Any player who receives a handoff can throw the ball from behind the line of scrimmage.
  2. Once the ball has been handed off in front, behind or to the side of the QB, all defensive players are eligible to now rush.
  3. Runners may not leave their feet to hurdle a defensive player.
  4. Spinning is allowed.
  5. Players spinning out of control will be called for flag guarding.
  6. Runners may hurdle if there is clear indication that he/she has done so to avoid collision with another player that is laying on the ground without a penalty enforced.
  7. NO blocking or screening is allowed at any time.
  8. Offensive players without the ball must stop their motion once the ball has crossed the line of scrimmage. No running with the ball-carrier.
  9. Flag obstruction – All jerseys MUST be tucked in before play begins. The flags must be on the player’s hips and free from obstruction. Deliberately obstructed flags will be considered flag guarding.


  1. All passes must be from behind the line of scrimmage.
  2. The QB may throw the ball away to avoid a sack. The pass must go beyond the line of scrimmage to avoid a penalty for intentional grounding. The QB has 7 seconds to get the ball in play before the play is called dead.
  3. Shovel passes are allowed.


  1. All players are eligible to receive passes.
  2. Only one player is allowed in motion at a time. All motion must be parallel to the line of scrimmage and no motion is permitted toward the line of scrimmage.
  3. A player must have at least one foot (FIRST FOOT) inbounds when making a reception.
  4. In the case of simultaneous possession by both an offensive and defensive player, possession is awarded to the offense.
  5. Interceptions change the possession of the ball at the spot of interception.
  6. Interceptions are returnable.

Rushing the Passer:

  1. Only one defensive player can blitz the QB. This may be done ONCE every 4 downs from seven yards back on the snap of the ball.
  2. Once the ball is handed off, all defenders may go behind the line of scrimmage.
  3. A special marker, or the referee, will designate the line of scrimmage. Defensive players should verify they are in the correct position with the official on every play.                             
  4. Player blitzing the QB may attempt to block a pass, however, NO contact can be made with the QB in any way. Blocking the pass or attempting to block the pass and then making contact with the passer will result in a roughing the passer penalty.

5.. If the “path or line” is occupied by a moving offensive player, then it is the defensive player’s responsibility to avoid the blitzer. If the offensive player does not move after the snap, then it is the blitzer’s responsibility to go around the offensive player and to avoid contact.

  1. A sack occurs if the QB’s flag is pulled behind the line of scrimmage. The ball is spotted where the QB’s feet are when the flag is pulled.
  2. A safety is awarded if the sack takes place in the offensive team’s end zone.

Flag Pulling:

  1. A legal flag pull takes place when the ball carrier is in full possession of the ball. If the excess from a flag belt is not taped or cut off the offense will receive a 5yard penalty and a loss of down.
  2. Defenders can dive to pull flags but cannot tackle, hold or run through the ball-carrier when pulling flags.
  3. It is illegal to attempt to strip or pull the ball from the ball-carrier’s possession at any time.
  4. If a player’s flag inadvertently falls off during the play, the player is down immediately upon possession of the ball and the play ends.
  5. A defensive player may not intentionally pull the flags off of a player who is not in possession of the ball.
  6. Flag guarding is an attempt by the ball-carrier to obstruct the defender’s access to the flags by stiff-arming, dropping the head, hand, arm or shoulder or intentionally covering the flags with the football jersey.


  1. Offenses must have a minimum of one (1) player on the line of scrimmage (the center/snapper) and up to five (5) players on the line of scrimmage. The QB must be off the line of scrimmage.
  2. One player at a time may go in motion behind and parallel to the line of scrimmage.
  3. No motion is allowed toward the line of scrimmage.
  4. Movement by a player who is set or a player who runs toward the line of scrimmage while in motion is considered a false start.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct:

  1. If the field monitor or referee witnesses any acts of intentional tackling, elbowing or cheap shots, blocking or any unsportsmanlike act, the game will be stopped and the player will be ejected from the game. The decision is made at the referee’s discretion. No appeals will be considered. FOUL PLAY WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!
  2. Offensive or confrontational language is not allowed. Officials have the right to determine offensive language. If offensive or confrontational language occurs, the referee will give one warning. If it continues, the player or players will be ejected from the game. This applies to coaches as well.
  3. Players may not physically or verbally abuse any opponent, coach or official.
  4. Ball carriers MUST make an effort to avoid defenders with an established position.
  5. Defenders are not allowed to run through the ball carrier when pulling flags.
  6. Unsportsmanlike conduct penalties:
  7. Defense +10 yards from line of scrimmage and automatic first down.
  8. Offense – 10 yards from line of scrimmage and loss of down.


  1. The referee will call all penalties.
  2. Referees determine incidental contact that may result from normal play.
  3. All penalties will be assessed from the line of scrimmage, except as noted. (Spot Fouls)
  4. Only the team captain or head coach may ask the referee questions about rule clarification and interpretations. Players may not question calls.
  5. Games may not end on a defensive penalty unless the offense declines it.
  6. Penalties are assessed live ball then dead ball. Live ball penalties must be assessed before play is considered complete.
  7. Penalties will be assessed half the distance to the goal yardage when the penalty yardage is more than half the distance to the goal.

Defensive Spot Fouls:


Defensive Pass Interference

Automatic First Down


+5 yards and automatic First Down


+10 yards and automatic first down


Offensive spot fouls:


Screening, blocking or running with the ball

-10 yards and loss of down


-10 yards and loss of down

Flag guarding

-10 yards and loss of down


Defensive penalties:

Defensive Unnecessary Roughness

+10 yards and automatic first down

Defensive Unsportsmanlike Conduct

+10 yards and automatic first down


+5 yards from LOS and automatic first down

Illegal Rush

+5 yards from LOS and automatic first down

Illegal flag pull (before the receiver has the ball)

+10 yards from LOS or spot and automatic first down

Roughing the passer

+10 yards from LOS and automatic first down


+10 yards from LOS or spot and automatic first down


Offensive Penalties:


Offensive unnecessary roughness

-10 yards and loss of down

Offensive unsportsmanlike conduct

-10 yards and loss of down

Offside/false start

-5 yards from LOS and loss of down

Illegal forward pass (throwing a pass or lateral after crossing the LOS)

-5 yards from LOS and loss of down

Offensive pass interference

-10 yards from LOS and loss of down

Illegal Motion (more than 1 person moving)

-5 yards from LOS and loss of down

Delay of game

-5 yards from LOS and loss of down

Impeding the rusher

-5 yards from LOS and loss of down

Intentional Grounding

-5 yards from LOS and loss of down


Illegal Flag Belt                                                                         -5 yards from LOS and loss of down

Taunting                                                                               -10 yards from LOS or spot and loss of down

Too Many men on field                                                     -5 yards from LOS and loss of down



  1. If the score is tied at the end of 48 minutes, an overtime period will be used to determine a winner. Overtime format is as follows:
  2. A coin flip will determine the team that chooses to be on offense or defense first. Home team calls the coin toss.
  3. If a second round of overtime must be played, the team that lost the coin toss will get to choose offense or defense for the second round of overtime. This process continues with teams alternating who gets to choose to be on offense or defense to start out during every round of overtime.
  4. The referee will determine which end of the field the overtime will take place on.
  5. Each team will take turns getting the ball at Midfield with 4 downs to score a touchdown. If a team scores a touchdown the team will then attempt a PAT as normal. Whether or not the team that begins on offense scores a touchdown and converts or does not convert the PAT, the team that started on defense will get a chance to win or tie.
  6. Both teams must “go for two” from the 10-yard line starting with the second round of overtime.
  7. All regulation period rules and penalties are in effect.
  8. There are no timeouts.