7 on 7 Tournament Rules

MFL 7-on-7 Tournament Rules (Last Updated July 3rd, 2023)


Players must be 18 years old or have a signed consent from a parent or legal guardian (age 15 and up). All teams must consist of athletes from one physical Malayalee church. All players must have their name, home address, telephone, have read and signed the roster/waiver form before they can participate. All players on the roster must sign the waiver before they play in a game. Players must have identification with them at the time of registration. 

Church Partner Rule: MFL teams, for summer and winter tournaments, must be composed of players from the same physical Malayalee church. In an effort to help smaller churches field a team, churches can request to partner with other churches by following this preset church partner list. Special considerations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the MFL board. All partner requests will be pending board approval.

Church Partner List:

  1. Chicago Syro-Malabar and Chicago Syro-Malankara churches
  2. Chicago Pentecostal churches
  3. Chicago KNA churches
  4. Chicago Orthodox churches
  5. Chicago Mar Thoma churches
  6. Chicago CSI churches
  7. Detroit Mar Thoma churches


  • DEFER RULE: If a team wins the toss and chooses to DEFER the CHOICE to the other team for the first half and they will be given the opportunity to choose to receive OR defend at the start of the second half.


  • Offensive team takes possession of the ball halfway between the 3rd and 4th cone from the end zone they are defending


  • 40 minutes per game
  • 20 minutes per half with a running clock 
  • 35 Second Play clock
  • 5 minute half-time
  • Game clock will only be stopped after a score, a time-out, or at the two-minute warning of the 2nd half (championship game 2 min warning in both halves), and dead balls (excluding fumbles) following the 2 minute warning.
  • In the case of overtime, there will be a 3-minute intermission prior to starting overtime.
  • Each team is allotted 3 timeouts, up to two (2) one-minute time-outs per half.


  • A coin toss will determine which team wins the right to choose to (1) take possession of the ball or (2) defend. Each team will have the chance to score in a series of four downs from the 1st and goal cone. If the team scores, they must attempt either a one-point or two-point conversion. If the score is still tied after each team has had a try, a second series is played, and so on until a winner is determined.


  • Each team should start the game with 7 players on the field; a minimum of 6 is needed to play (otherwise the offending team will forfeit the game). 


  • Only the captain of each team is allowed to “challenge” the referee. Any team members, other than the captain, that are consistent in “arguing” with the referees will be penalized/ejected at the referee’s discretion.
  • Regular season seeding: 8 team league will follow the “snake” format (1,4,5,8 & 2,3,6,7)
    • Will/can be applied to other league structures
  • Concussion Protocol 
    • A ref or any board member can request a player to go through concussion screening via medical personnel appointed by the board. MFL board will have final say on outcome and procedure. 


  • No jewelry is allowed
  • No hard billed hats are allowed forward
  • No glasses are allowed; can have goggles with band connection between the frame/temple portion/temple tips of the goggles. 
  • NO METAL OR SCREW-IN CLEATS ARE PERMITTED! If you bring metal/screw-in cleats to the tournament you will not be allowed to play with them on. However, molded cleats are allowed and recommended.
  •  Any slippery or sticky substance of a foreign nature on equipment or exposed parts of the body is illegal.
  • No device (protective of otherwise) that may cause injury is permitted.


  • Touchdowns = 6 points
  • Extra points = 1 point from 4 yards away from goal line
  • Extra Points = 2 points from 8 yards away from goal line
  • Safety = 2 points
  • Defensive Team cannot score on an extra point conversion.
  • Once a team has made their choice on the extra point, they can only change their decision by taking a time-out (if available otherwise no change)


  • When a flag is pulled from a runner in possession of the ball, the player is ruled “down”.
  • Accidental or inadvertent loss of flag after play starts, play continues until a one-hand tag is made 
  • Once ONE knee (or back/butt hits the ground) or if the ball touches the ground. 
  • Players must have possession of the ball before they can legally be deflagged. It is illegal for a defensive player to intentionally pull a flag from an offensive player who is not in possession of the ball (pass interference). The result is a spot foul or 5-yard penalty from line of scrimmage (whichever is greater) & automatic first down.

THE FLAG BELT (Triple Threat Flag Belts © are provided)

  • ALL T-SHIRTS/JERSEYS THAT FALL BELOW THE WAIST MUST BE TUCKED IN DURING TOURNAMENT PLAY! You may be reminded by referees; however, if a player’s shirt prevents him from being deflagged during a play, a 5-yard penalty will be assessed from the spot of the obstruction.
  • If during a play, the shirt of an offensive player is inadvertently pulled out and obstructs the ability of the defense to pull a flag, the play will revert to a legal one- hand tag. A one-hand tag must be placed on the offensive player by the defense between the shoulders and knees, including the hand and arm for the offensive player to be ruled down.
  • Should a player who has lost their flag belt (either legally or illegally) during a down gain possession of a live ball, that player will be considered down only when a legal one-hand tag is made.
  • All players on the field must have a flag on before the snap of the ball; if not 5 yard penalty from line of scrimmage & replay down
  • If the belt has been illegally secured the score is disallowed, the player is ejected from the game (possibly the tournament), and a 10-yard penalty is assessed from the original line of scrimmage.


  • When the whistle blows while the ball is live, the offended team has the option of taking the ball at the spot when the whistle blew or taking the play over. (Rule does not apply when the offensive team fumbles the ball)


  • If a dead ball, holding, or intentional grounding occurs in the end zone then the defensive team will be awarded a safety (2 points)
  • The opposing team will receive the 2 points and the ball from the 3rd and 4th cone from the end zone they are defending. 


  • The ball is declared DEAD when the ball touches the ground; on punt when the ball touches the player then hits the ground. 


  • Once the ball touches the ground it is considered dead and may NOT be recovered or advanced by either team. If the ball is caught and clearly controlled before it is fumbled, the ball is dead at the spot of the fumble.
  • A ball fumbled FORWARD will be put into play at the point it was fumbled.
  • All fumbled balls remain with the team with possession (except on fourth downs resulting in a turnover).
  • Either team may advance a fumble that is caught in the air before reaching the ground. An incomplete lateral is treated as a fumble and is whistled dead at the spot where it touches the ground. A backwards pass is considered a lateral and is also dead at the spot where it touches the ground.
  • Fumbles DO NOT stop the clock under 2 minute warnings. 


  • A team may lateral passes backward an unlimited number of times as long as the pass is thrown behind the possessing player. 
  • A player may throw a forward pass after a lateral pass, handoff, or backwards pass if the ball has not passed the line of scrimmage.
  • Only one forward pass may be made per play.


  • In order for a catch to be deemed legal, the receiver must catch the ball without ANY part of the ball touching the ground. A receiver must be able to make the catch without the aid of the ground (trapping the ball). This rule applies to both offensive and defensive players.
  • If a receiver hits the ground and loses possession of the ball before having clear possession of it, the pass is ruled incomplete.
  • If a player is in the air attempting to catch a ball, he must land with at least one foot in-bounds with clear possession of the ball before going out of bounds.
  • If a player is forced/pushed out of bounds by a defender before getting one foot down, a referee must determine whether or not it was a legal catch. This rule applies to both offensive and defensive players.
  • If a receiver goes out of bounds on his own volition, he is deemed ineligible to receive a pass. If a player is forced out of bounds by a defensive player, he is eligible to return to the field of play to receive a pass.


  • Entire offense is eligible (including lineman)
  • Must have a minimum of 3 offensive linemen on the line of scrimmage at the center of the field, lined up at or behind the line of scrimmage. (all 3 players must be within “1 yard” from one another. If this is not done, an illegal formation penalty will be assessed (5 yards)). 
  • The offensive center must snap the ball between his legs, unless the team is punting the ball.
  • Once the center has placed his hands on the ball, a member of the offensive team must call ‘set’ before the start of a valid offensive play.
  • Any player on the offensive team that moves after “set” is called (except player in motion) will be penalized for a false start (5 yards from line of scrimmage & replay down).
  • Only one player can be in motion at a given time


  • Must have a minimum of 2 players on the line of scrimmage in a 3-point stance; otherwise illegal formation penalty will be assessed
  • Defensive players CANNOT fake towards the quarterback or enter the neutral zone to draw a false start. A defensive player can move side to side, but NOT forward. Resulting penalty is offside – 5 “yards” from line of scrimmage & replay down.


  • A punt must be kicked, it cannot be thrown.
  • Center may hand ball to punter (does not have to be between legs)
  • Quick punts are illegal. On fourth down the Referee must ask the Offensive team if they want a protected scrimmage punt. The only way the offense can change their decision is to call a time-out or after a foul occurs anytime prior to or during the down, resulting in the down having to be re- played. 
  • The kicking team must have all of its players, except for the punter, on the line of scrimmage; with three offensive linemen with 1 yard splits (same as offensive formation). 
  • Players on the kicking team may not move until the ball is kicked.
  • At least two defensive players must be lined up on the defensive line, in any stance during a punt. 
  • Defensive players MAY attempt to block the punt by jumping straight up in the air (not side to side) but they cannot rush the punter. 
  • If the punt is blocked, the ball cannot be advanced unless it is caught in the air 
  • The kicking team cannot advance a blocked punt under any circumstances.
  • If the ball is not touched by the receiving team, the punting team may “down” the punt wherever they first touch the ball. 
  • The ball is NOT live if the receiving team does not touch the ball.
  • If the ball is dropped by the punter the ball is dead and the receiving team takes possession of the ball at the spot of the dead ball.
  • Down field blocking is not allowed on punts


  • All penalties can be declined if deemed the better option by offended team(except unsportsmanlike, fighting, or others like it)
  • Penalties cannot be committed intentionally to assist the offending player’s team; will result in Unsportsmanlike Conduct Penalty
  • Multiple penalties against the same team, offended team may choose 1 penalty to be enforced
  • Multiple penalties against BOTH teams; penalties offset no matter the severity and down is replayed


  • Offensive plays must be run before the 35 second play clock runs down. Penalty is 5 “yards” from the line of scrimmage and replay of down.


  • Runner denying the opportunity for an opponent to pull/remove the flag belt results in a 5 “yard” penalty from the spot of the foul. (Result of the play before the foul will stand; If 1st down is gained before the penalty, the offensive team is awarded the first down before the penalty is assessed). 
  • Flag guarding includes:
  • Swinging the hand or arm over the flag belt to prevent de-flagging
  • Placing the ball over the flag belt to prevent de-flagging
  • Lowering the shoulders in a manner that flag guards.


  • Movement of extending arm to create separation and to prevent the flag pull is NOT allowed; results in 5 “yards” from spot of foul. (Result of the play before the foul will stand)..


  • Pulling and restraining of another player or blocking outside the frame of the defender. 
  • 5 yard penalty from line of scrimmage and replay of down 


  • Pulling and restraining of a player outside the 5 yard contact area results in a 5 yard penalty from line of scrimmage and automatic first down 


  • Players MAY NOT Punch, strike, strip, steal, or attempt to steal the ball from a player in possession of the ball; results in a 5 yard penalty from the spot of the foul (or from line of scrimmage if penalty occurs behind line of scrimmage) and a replay of down.
  • A player IS allowed to block a pass by jumping and deflecting it when thrown, but hitting the quarterback’s hand while he is in a throwing motion results in a 5 yard penalty from the line of scrimmage and replay down. 


  • Holding or grasping the runner, when attempting to remove the flag belt, to obstruct forward progress results in a 5 yard penalty from the end of the run.


  • If an eligible receiver is intentionally deflagged or physically interfered with prior to touching the ball on a pass thrown beyond the 5-yard contact area; results in an automatic first down from the spot of the foul or 5 yards from line of scrimmage (whichever is greater)


  • Physical interference before touching the ball. 
  • A 10 yard loss from the line of scrimmage for the offense and a loss of down.


  • Defensive players are not allowed to make contact with receivers beyond the 5 “yard” contact area, resulting in illegal contact penalty 5 yards from the line of scrimmage and replay of down.
  • Defensive players CAN make contact with the offensive player within 5 “yards”, but cannot hold or obstruct the receiver’s path.
  • Wide Receivers may not initiate contact with defensive players in order to gain an advantage. 
  • Wide receiver IS ALLOWED to screen another receiver without making contact with a defensive player. (example: screen pass)
  • Wide receiver picks CANNOT block (set a PICK) by making contact with a defensive player before another receiver catches the ball.


  • Having more than 7 players at the snap of the ball; resulting penalty is 5 “yards” from line of scrimmage & replay of down.


  • Throwing the ball forward when beyond the line of scrimmage or throwing more than one forward pass; results in a penalty of 5 “yards” from the line of scrimmage and a loss of down.


  • An offensive player MAY NOT push a defensive player in the back to maintain a block; resulting penalty is 5 yards from the line of scrimmage & a replay of down. 
  • A legal block which inadvertently becomes a block in the back due to a defensive player’s movement (such as a spin move) will not be ruled a penalty. 


  • The passer throws a forward pass without a real chance of completion while within the pocket and facing a loss due to defensive pressure. 
  • The pocket refers to the distance between both offensive line tackles (tight end included if he stays to pass protect) and from line of scrimmage to end line. 
  • Resulting in a 5 yard penalty from the line of scrimmage and loss of down.


  • Throwing the ball forward when past the line of scrimmage results in a 5 “yard” penalty from the spot of foul.


Examples of 5-yard penalties include:

  • Defensive holding (automatic first down)
  • Defensive illegal use of hands (automatic first down)
  • Delay of game (offensive/defensive)
  • Offside, Encroachment,Neutral zone infraction
  • False start
  • Illegal motion/formation/shift
  • Illegal contact (automatic first down)
  • Illegal forward pass (loss of down)
  • Intentional grounding
  • Too many men on the field
  • Flag guarding

Examples of 10-yard penalties include:

  • Offensive pass interference
  • Offensive holding
  • Offensive illegal use of hands
  • Illegal block in the back
  • Tripping
  • Roughing the passer

Examples of 15-yard penalties include:(change some obvious and excessive fouls)

  • Interfering with fair catch
  • Stiffarm, Striking,or Kneeing
  • Striking opponent below shoulders with forearm or elbow by turning or pivoting
  • Falling/excessive contact with player on the ground
  • Unnecessary roughness, tackling
  • Unsportsmanlike conduct – taunting, profanity/swearing, argumentative/ confrontational behavior  
  • Illegal conduct by non-players (ejection from team sideline)
  • Chop block, Clipping
  • Illegal blindside/crackback/peel back block
  • Diving
  • Tying flag
  • Physical fighting or threatening to punch/kick/etc. – even if contact is not made (ejection)
  • Abusive/threatening/obscene language or gestures (ejection)



  1. Delay of Game: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
  2. Illegal Formation: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
  3. False Start: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
  4. Clipping/Block in the Back: 5 “yards” from the Line of Scrimmage & Replay Down
  5. Offensive Holding: 5 “yards” from the Line of Scrimmage & Replay Down
  6. Offensive Pass Interference: 10 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Loss of Down
  7. Illegal Contact (Offensive): 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
  8. Illegal Forward Pass/Illegal Pass Beyond the Line of Scrimmage: 5 “yards” and Loss of down
  9. Intentional Grounding: 5 “yards” & Loss of Down
  10. Flag Guarding/ Stiff Arm: 5 “yards” from Spot of the Foul (Result of play before the foul will stand)



  1. Offside/Encroachment/Fake Forward: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
  2. Defensive Holding: 5 “yards” from the Line of Scrimmage & Automatic 1st Down
  3. Illegal Formation –(3-point stance): 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down 
  4. Defensive Pass Interference: Automatic 1st Down at the Spot of the Foul
  5. Illegal Contact (Defensive): 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
  6. Obstructing the Runner: 5 “yards” added to the end of the run
  7. Stripping the Ball: 5 “yards” added to the end of the run
  8. Stripping the QB: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down



  1. Too Many Men on the Field: 5 “yards” from line of scrimmage & Replay Down
  2. No Flag on Before Snap of Ball: 5 “yards” penalty from line of scrimmage & Replay Down



-All Penalties Listed Below Will Result In Either A Loss Of Down (Offensive Penalty) Or 1st Down For The Offense (Defensive Penalty) In Addition To Loss Of Yardage (10 “Yards”).

  1. Swearing/Taunting
  2. Tackling The Runner Or Pushing Runner Of Bounds
  3. Throwing The Runner To The Ground
  4. Roughing The Passer
  5. Tripping An Opponent
  6. Excessive Contact With An Opponent Who Is On The Ground
  7. Making Any Contact With An Opponent Which Is Deemed Unnecessary/Rough
  8. Deliberately Driving Or Running Into A Defensive Player
  9. Any Form Of Cheating, Such As Illegal Equipment, Flag Concealment, Etc.
  10. Fighting – Fighting Will Result In An Automatic Ejection From The Entire Tournament For The Offending Player(S) And Potentially Entire Team If Deemed Appropriate By The Referees And/Or The Mfl Board.
  11. Illegal Equipment


Penalties May Be Greater If Viewed As Unsportsmanlike Or Done With Intent To Harm/Injure. Such Actions May Result In Ejection Of Player And Or Team Or Additional Yardage Being Assessed To The Penalty.