By Erin Irish
A touchdown is when a team advances the football into the opposing team’s end zone. An end zone is the area between the goal line and the end line in between the sidelines. There are two end zones on opposite sides of the field. A touchdown occurs when the ball crosses the plane of the goal line while in possession of a player or if caught within the end zone as long as the player is touching the ground. As long as the ball passes the goal line, it is sufficient for a touchdown, but if a player’s arm or helmet pass beyond the line and the ball does not, that is not a touchdown. A touchdown is scored by a player running the ball into the end zone or a pass being thrown to a player within the end zone. A touchdown is worth six points.
A touchdown can also be scored by the defense if the ball is fumbled by the offense and recovered by a defensive player who runs the ball all the way to the opposing end zone. Similarly, a touchdown can be scored by the defense if a pass is intercepted by the defense and carried to the opposing end zone.
Simply put, a touchdown is scored when the ball crosses the goal line while in possession of a player who has advanced from the field of play into the end zone or who has caught a pass in the end zone. The ball must be on, above, or beyond the plane of the opponents’ goal line and in possession of the offensive player. The touchdown is not complete until the receiver completes the catch, if it is not run into the end zone by the player.
A touchdown can also be awarded by the Referee to a team that was about to score, but was disrupted by a palpably unfair act. An example of this would be if an opposing player on the sidelines comes onto the field and tackles an offensive player on his way to the end zone who would not have otherwise been stopped.