The muff was 30 yards down field. ThanksIt's hard to imagine a muffed punt being behind the line of scrimmage, but if it is. or if it's blocked and is behind the line of scrimmage, it can be advanced by anybody. If the punt is really short and the muff is behind the line (neutral zone in Rules Book parlance) anybody can advance it but if the kicking team advances it the line to gain is still in play and ending up short of that line means a turnover on downs (assuming its a 4th down play)
The more likely question here is whether a muffed punt BEYOND the line of scrimmage can be advanced. No it cannot. Recovered but not advanced.
By definition, a muff is touched but never possessed by the receiving team.
Once it's possessed, it's no longer a punt, it's just the ball in possession of a runner. If it's fumbled at that point, then it can be advanced.
That would be a pretty big mistake for a playoff crew. Devastating error. Possible the covering official (Back Judge) ruled that the ball was caught-possessed and then fumbled. Likely that either the Side Judge or Field Judge (or both) caught a peek at the play also and could have stepped in with input. Kicks only happen a dozen or so times per game but are the most chaotic plays in football. Most experienced officials will tell you that they spend as much time studying Chapter 6 in the rule book as they do the whole rest of the book.Heritage-Rustburg. Thursday night.