Updated 11 a.m. ET Sept. 17
Division III Texas Lutheran kicker Tyler Hopkins made a chip shot field goal in perhaps the most extraordinary way possible on Saturday. Though it was apparently illegal.
Hopkins’ short field goal try was blocked by a Belhaven University player. But after the kick was blocked, he had the presence of mind to kick it off the bounce. The second kick went through the uprights for three points.
After looking at the rule book Saturday night, we thought the kick was a legal field goal because Hopkins kicked it off a bounce. According to the NCAA rule book, “any free kick or scrimmage kick continues to be a kick until it is caught or recovered by a player or becomes dead.” The kick was never recovered by anyone.
Also according to the rule book, “it is a legal kick if it is made by Team A — in or behind the neutral zone during a scrimmage down before team possession changes.” Possession never changed and the kick was made behind the neutral zone.
But according to Football Zebras, those rules are superseded by the rule preventing the kick of a loose ball. So the field goal should never have been allowed. Whoops. We read the rules wrong. And the officials apparently did too.
A ball that is not in a player’s possession is a loose ball: in-flight forward passes, fumbles, kicks, and backward passes are all loose balls. So, the blocked field goal remains a kick, but it is also a loose ball. And under no circumstance may a player deliberately kick a loose ball. (A ball being dropped for a legal punt or dropkick is not considered loose if it is kicked as usual.) So, at this point there is a foul for an illegal kick. This being Division III, we are under NCAA rules, and the illegal kick is a 15-yard penalty and a loss of down. Assuming this is a fourth down, this would be a turnover on downs.
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