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XFL Week 3 referee assignments

The XFL season forges ahead in its third week, with referees James Carter, John O’Neill, Brandon Cruse, and Tra Blake each leading their crews this weekend.



The XFL season forges ahead in its third week, with referees James Carter, John O’Neill, Brandon Cruse, and Tra Blake each leading their crews this weekend. Follow our live coverage here and on our Twitter page, @footballzebras.

Game assignments are below. All times are Eastern.

Game assignments

Saturday, Feb. 22

Houston Roughnecks at Tampa Bay Vipers, 2 p.m. ABC

R 19 James Carter SEC
C 31 Amanda Sauer-Cook Big Ten
U 38 Mike Moten SEC
D 79 Michael Dolce Big Ten
L 44 Steven Matarante ACC
F 5 Glen Fucik SEC
S 99 Clay Reynard Pac-12
B 26 Justin Nelson Pac-12
  • Replay official: Mike Chase
  • Ball spotter: Joey Calcagino
  • Supervisor: Chuck Bresnahan

Dallas Renegades at Seattle Dragons, 5 p.m. FOX

R 14 John O’Neill Big Ten
C 82 Ron Turner SEC
U 86 William Thomas ACC
D 11 Dale Keller Pac-12
L 28 Tom Eaton SEC
F 96 Sebrina Brunson SEC
S 72 Justin Larrew SEC
B 23 David Ross Pac-12

This week, DJ Dale Keller (Smith crew) is substituting for DJ Rod Ammari, and BJ David Ross (Cruse) is substituting for BJ Tyree Walton.

  • Replay official: Terri Valenti
  • Ball spotter: Charles Giles
  • Supervisor: Wes Booker

Sunday, Feb. 23

New York Guardians at St. Louis Battlehawks, 3 p.m. ESPN

R 81 Brandon Cruse Big 12
C 51 Tab Slaughter Big 12
U 88 Mike Morton ACC
D 42 Tangela Mitchell SWAC
L 59 Brett Bergman Big Ten
F 3 Anthony Flemming Big 12
S 76 Eric Hartman ACC
B 90 Tyree Walton Big 12

This week, BJ Tyree Walton (O’Neill crew) is substituting for BJ David Ross.

  • Replay official: Mark Butterworth
  • Ball spotter: Eric Oliver
  • Supervisor: Larry Upson

DC Defenders at Los Angeles Wildcats, 6 p.m. FS1

R 9 Tra Blake ACC
C 22 Larry Smith Big Ten
U 49 Scott Campbell Big 12
D 8 James Wharrie Pac-12
L 54 Quentin Givens Big 12
F 67 Max Causey Conference USA
S 62 LaShell Nelson Conference USA
B 25 Grantis Bell SEC

This week, U Scott Campbell (Heaser crew) is substituting for U Francisco Villar, and RO Robert Lu (Heaser) is substituting for RO Saleem Choudhry.

  • Replay official: Robert Lu
  • Ball spotter: Jace Carlson
  • Supervisor: Steve Strimling


Cool, calm, and collected

Watch back judge Justin Nelson on this successful three-point try. He maintains composure, stays in position, and goes up with a crisp touchdown signal. It is always important to remain calm and under control when signaling a big play.

Contact to a defenseless receiver

Roughnecks safety Cody Brown was flagged for an illegal hit to the head/neck area of a defenseless receiver. While it did appear that Brown led with his shoulder on the hit, he did make contact with receiver De’Veon Smith’s helmet during the follow-through. Smith caught the ball on the play, so the foul is enforced half the distance to the goal from the end of the run. Back judge Justin Nelson and field judge Glen Fucik made the call.

Quick on the trigger to start the game clock

The game clock appeared to have started erroneously on the Tampa Bay Vipers touchdown just before halftime. On the prior play, the Vipers gained a first down, which stops the clock inside of two minutes in the XFL’s “comeback period”, and should start again five seconds after the ball is spotted and ready for play. However, Tampa Bay used a timeout after making the first down, while replay official Mike Chase was determining if the runner was down short of the goal line, or scored a touchdown. By using this timeout, the clock should have started at the snap on the next play, not after that five second ball spotting window. Tampa Bay was able to get the play off, but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if they didn’t, especially to be able to hear a conference which would’ve corrected the game clock. While an error was made in the starting of the game clock, crisis was averted.

While this may be a new innovative timing rule for the XFL, we have already formulated our opinion that the NFL should avoid this rule like the plague.

QB Walker was down when he hit the ground, point blank

Quarterback P.J. Walker was thought to have fumbled on this long run, however, since he dove forward, he is down by contact. When any runner dives forward, he will be treated in the same manner as if he was sliding to give himself up. Thus, once any part of his body hits the ground, the ball is dead. Although Walker was not touched on this play, he is treated the same was as if he was giving himself up, and as a result, is down by contact before any additional continuing action. Also, by throwing the ball to the ground, it is made clear that Walker was making no effort to advance. According to XFL Rule 4-2-d-1 (NFL equivalent 7-2-d-1):

An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended when a runner declares himself down by falling to the ground, or kneeling, and clearly making no immediate effort to advance.

Double forward pass leads to a 15 yard gain

Dallas quarterback Landry Jones threw a forward pass which was batted back into his hands, and he threw a second forward pass to a receiver for a 15 yard gain. This play is legal under XFL rules, which allow a second forward pass provided the first forward pass does not cross the line of scrimmage. If Jones’ pass crossed the line of scrimmage, and was batted back to him, he would not be allowed to throw the ball again. This is also a reviewable aspect of a play if it were to go to replay review.

Sorting out double fouls

Listen to referee Brandon Cruse and his crew discuss how to enforce double fouls. Side judge Eric Hartman had a defensive foul for an illegal hit on a defenseless receiver, and center judge Tab Slaughter had an offensive foul for illegal use of hands. During the discussion, Cruse confirmed that the crew did not “have a 5/15 situation” referring to a 5 vs. 15 double foul enforcement, when a simple five yard penalty on one team (simple meaning not accompanied by a loss of down or automatic first down) is superseded by a 15 yard penalty on the other. The result of the play was a simple offset. Proper communication between members of the crew is key to ensuring proper penalty enforcement.

First foul toward 2&DQ

Guardians center Ian Silberman was flagged for a post-possession dead ball unsportsmanlike conduct foul during a scuffle out of bounds after a Battlehawks interception. As in the NFL, this is Silberman’s first foul of that type in the category, and if he receives another, he will be disqualified from the game.

Multiple fouls on a punt by the kicking team

Tra Blake’s crew needed to enforce multiple fouls by the punting team on this play. One foul was for kick catch interference and the other was for an ineligible member of the kicking team downfield. Although one was during the return, and the other was before the return, only one can be enforced. The ineligible man downfield was declined, and the kick catch interference was accepted. Also, enjoy the close up of the penalty flag courtesy of the Fox on-field broadcast camera crew.

Replay reversal of an incomplete pass

Replay official Robert Lu swiftly, but thoroughly, reverses an incomplete pass in this clip. Down judge James Wharrie and side judge Lashell Nelson got together on the field to rule a tight catch at the sideline incomplete, but replays showed the receiver had a foot down in bounds (only one is required in the XFL) and control of the ball. 

Cam Filipe is a forensic scientist and has been involved in football officiating for 12 years. Cam is in his fourth season as a high school football official. This is his ninth season covering NFL officiating for Football Zebras.

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