For years, high school football games in Ohio could be shortened by mutual agreement of both head coaches. That will change this fall with the adoption of a football point differential rule as part of 2014-15 regulations approved by the Ohio High School Athletic Association's board of directors recently.

The point differential regulation is already used in many states. The proposal was recommended to the board by the OHSAA staff after more than a year of consultation with the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.

Unlike changes to the bylaws and constitution, which require a vote of the OHSAA's membership, changes to sport-specific regulations and the general sports regulations need only approval from the board of directors.

"First and foremost, this was proposed out of concern for player safety," said Beau Rugg, the OHSAA's assistant commissioner in charge of football, wrestling and all officiating.

"Lopsided games aren't good for anybody. The risk of injury goes up and it can be a tense situation for coaches and players. The length of games is also a topic of conversation at the national level. This is just the right thing to do."

The football point differential regulation reads as follows:

After the first half, any time the score differential reaches 30 points or more for 11- man football, the following changes, and only these changes, will be made regarding rules determining when the clock will be stopped. The clock will be stopped when:

An official's timeout is called either for an injured player or following a change of team possession.

A charged timeout is called.

At the end of a period.

A score occurs.

The clock will start again on the ready-for-play signal for the first play after the above situations. The clock will continue to run in all other situations.

The use of the new rule does not preclude the use of a rule which reads: "A period or periods may be shortened in any emergency by agreement of the opposing coaches and referee. ... Any remaining periods may be shortened at any time or the game terminated."

After the 30-point difference has been met, if the score drops below 30 points, the clock reverts to regular timing.