This happened recently in a high school game I was watching and it appeared that the referees did not know exactly how to enforce it. While this happened in a high school game, I am curious about the enforcement at all levels of play.


  • Team A kicks off to Team B to start the game
  • On the final play of the first half, Team A scores a touchdown
  • Team A attempts an extra point (PAT) with no time left in the half
  • The extra point is good, however Team B commits a personal foul
  • Team A elects to have the penalty enforced on the ensuing kickoff

This is where it is a little strange, Team A will never have an ensuing kickoff. Because Team A kicked off to start the game, they will receive to start the second half. Is the penalty still enforced on Team B's kickoff?

In the game I saw, the officials did not allow Team A to elect to enforce the penalty on the ensuing kickoff (after Team A actually already had elected it, and the referees had to discuss) and instead enforced a penalty of half the distance to the goal and had Team A retry the PAT. However, as I said, it did not appear that the officials knew what to do and may have enforced it incorrectly.

  • If I had to guess at this, the penalty could have been enforced on the next kickoff anyway. Normally in this situation, team A would move closer to their end zone for the kickoff, giving them a shorter field to kick. Instead, the refs probably should have moved Team B farther from their endzone (say from the 35 to the 25), forcing them to kick longer to get a touchback, and thus giving Team A better field position after the return. This is just what I would assume would happen in this situation.
    – SocioMatt
    Nov 12, 2012 at 20:22
  • What would make sense to me would be that after team A kicks to team B, the personal foul penalty is enforced after the return, either 15 yards or half the distance to the goal depending on the spot of the return. Nov 24, 2012 at 7:03

2 Answers 2


The the NFL rulebook, rule 14, section 1, article 14:

If a team scores and the opponent commits a personal or unsportsmanlike conduct foul or a palpably unfair act during the down, the penalty is enforced on the succeeding free kick unless the enforcement resulted in the score.

Note: If the personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct foul, or a palpably unfair act by the opponent occurred on a successful field goal or Try kick, the penalty could be enforced from the previous spot and the offensive team would retain the ball, with no score.

High school rules could of course be different.

Note that there is no requirement that the kickoff be the same or the other team's kick.

Assuming NFL rules, team A would likely have elected to have the penalty enforced on the kickoff, which would have meant that B's kickoff would have moved closer to its own end zone, potentially giving A much better field position. Forcing team A to replay the PAT was wrong.


A kickoff takes place from the kicking team's 40 yard line.

If the kicking team receives say, a five yard penalty, they get to kick off from their 45 yard line instead. That is closer to the opponent's goal.

If the receiving team receives the five yard penalty, the point of the kick off is pushed BACK to the kicking team's 35 yard line, that is, farther from the goal of the receiving team. All other things being equal, the receiving team will start an average of five yards further forward from where they would otherwise have been. This was the actual case in your example.

  • Are you speaking of the second-half kickoff? The point of the question is that there is no following kickoff for a touchdown scored with no time on the first-half clock. Dec 16, 2013 at 15:26
  • @MichaelMyers: Yes, I meant on the second half kickoff. The OP was wondering how it would be enforced in favor of the receiving team.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 16, 2013 at 15:31

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