College Football

Army downs Navy in Series first overtime game

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Midshipmen from the U.S. Naval Academy take the field prior to the 123rd Army-Navy game held in Philadelphia. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

For the first time in history of the Army-Navy game, in the 123rd matchup between the two academies dating back to 1890, overtime was required before a winner could be determined. Facing 4th-and-8 in the second overtime period, Army’s Quinn Maretzki kicked a 39-yard field goal to break the tie and give the Black Knights a 20-17 victory in front of an announced crowd of 69,117 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Both teams stuck to their normal game plan by keeping the focus on their running game instead of airing it out. They only passed for 53 yards combined on three total completions through regulation and two overtime periods. Fans were treated to a defensive grudge match instead.

Army won the toss and elected to defer, giving Navy the first possession beginning on their own 25-yard line. The first seven plays were rushes out of the shotgun formation by quarterback Xavier Arline and running backs Daba Fofana and Vincent Terrell II. On 2nd-and-14 on the Navy 45-yard line, Arline rushed on the left side for 17-yards before being brought town by Army safety Marquel Broughton at the Army 38-yard line.

On the next play, Navy guard Ahmad Bradley was called with a false start penalty, pushing the Midshipmen back five yards. Running back Maquel Haywood regained the penalized yardage on the next play.

After 11 plays and gaining only 37 yards and taking 7:41 off the clock, the Midshipmen were forced to punt on 4th-and-10 from the Army 38-yard line.

Army’s first possession consisted of two quarterbacks, Tyhier Tyler and Cade Ballard rushing three times for a total of six yards, taking only 1:51 off the clock before Billy Boehlke punted it away.

Navy Midshipmen running back Daba Fofana tries to evade a tackler on one of his 11 carries during the 2022 Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

The Midshipmen tried to mix it up on their next possession running a flea flicker on their first play from scrimmage. Arline’s pass to running back Kai Puailoa-Rojas fell short, but Army’s Broughton was flagged for defensive holding, which put the ball on the Black Knight’s 47-yard line. Navy rushed the next seven consecutive plays between Terrell, Arline and Fofana, and only picked up 19 yards. Once again, facing 4th down on the Army 38-yard line, this time with 24 seconds on the game clock, the Midshipmen punted.

The Black Knights took over on their four-yard line. Tyler rushed for two yards, which then ran out the clock to the end of the first quarter of the scoreless game.

Ballard threw incomplete passes to receiver Cole Caterbone and running back Ay’Juan Marshall, giving Army another three-and-out situation. Boehlke punted from the Army end zone, which was fielded by Navy running back Amin Hassan at the Army 44 and returned nine yards to the Army 35 yard line with 14:39 left in the half.

This time it was the Army defense that held Navy. The Midshipmen gained nine yards on three plays. However, because of the stellar field possession that Navy started with, kicker Bijan Nichols connected on a 44-yard field goal attempt on 4th-and-1 to give the Midshipmen a 3-0 lead with 12:36 left in the half.

Neither team could get anything going on the next four possessions. The next two drives for each team consisted of either incomplete passes or short runs followed by a punt on fourth down.

On 4th-and-2 on the Navy 33, Tyler was stuffed two yards behind the line of scrimmage by Midshipmen defensive end Jacob Busic to force a turnover on downs with 3:13 remaining in the half.

Two false starts and a delay of game penalty put Navy in a 4th-and-14 situation on their own 31-yard line, forcing a Riley Riethman punt. Black Knights defensive back Noah Short came up the middle and blocked Riethman’s punt, which teammate Jabrill Williams secured in the end zone for the touchdown. Quinn Maretzki’s extra point was good, giving the Black Knights the 7-3 lead with 1:06 left in the half.

Navy quarterback Xavier Arline was the leading rusher during the 2022 Army-Navy game in Philadelphia. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine.

The Midshipmen played their next possession with a new sense of urgency. Xavier Arline rushed for four yards before busting open a 28-yard rush to get to the Navy 47 yard line. After spiking the ball with four seconds left on the clock, Arline, who was injured on the previous run, was replaced by quarterback Maasai Maynor for the final play of the half. Maynor threw a Hail Mary pass which was knocked down by Army linebacker Andre Carter II after time expired on the clock. Army led 7-3 at halftime, which featured zero pass completions in the game at that point.

The third quarter continued much like the first two. Navy would run to daylight, Army would stop them. Then Army would run, and the Navy defense would dominate at the line. Neither team could get much of a drive going, nor did they take to the air.

The Black Knights finally managed a drive midway through the quarter. First, Tyler scrambled for a 40-yard touchdown run, which was nullified by an illegal block in the back penalty by receiver Isaiah Alston. Army then rushed five times for 21 yards to get to the Navy 24-yard line. A false start penalty pushed them back five yards. Ballard received a bad pass from center, which was fumbled. Army running back Markel Johnson recovered the fumble for a 25-yard loss, which forced the Black Knights to punt on fourth down.

On the next play, Navy running back Anton Hall Jr. broke open a 77-yard touchdown run. With Bijan Nichols extra point, Navy pulled ahead 10-7 with 4:09 left in the third quarter. Both teams would then go three-and-out by the time the quarter ended with no change in score.

The fourth quarter continued the trend of the previous three with short yardage rushes, incomplete passes and punts, but now sacks and penalties were starting to add to the mix.

Army kicker Quinn Maretzki kicks a 37-yard field goal with 1:53 remaining in regulation to tie the game 10-10. This field goal would force overtime for the first time in the history of the Army-Navy game dating back to 1890. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

The first pass completion was made from the Black Knights 26 yard-line on first down when Army quarterback Cade Ballard connected on a 26-yard strike to running back Braheam Murphy with just under 10 minutes left in regulation. The play moved the ball into Navy territory, but soon penalties negated any remaining gains in the possession. After seven plays and 2:33 off the clock, including a two-yard pass completion to Murphy, Army only advanced the ball 25 yards to face a 4th-and-23 situation on the Navy 47. Boehlke punted to the Navy 5-yard line. Murphy’s two receptions would be the only passes that Army would complete in the game.

The Midshipmen went three-and-out on their next possession, having taken just 2:10 off the clock. The Black Knights were still trailing by three points when they received the ball on their own 46-yard line with 5:21 on the clock.

Ballard, Markel Johnson and Ay’Juan Marshall methodically advanced the ball against a tiring Midshipmen defense. They advanced the ball 34 yards on six rushes to get to the Navy 20, setting up a Quinn Maretzki 37-yard field goal to tie the score 10-10 with 1:53 remaining in regulation.

Navy started from their own 25-yard line but could only muster 20-yards on six plays. Regulation ended after a Riethman punt to the Army 7-yard line, and a kneel down by Ballard to run out the clock. For the first time in the history of the Army-Navy game, the teams would play in overtime.

On the very first overtime play, Army’s Markel Johnson ran the ball up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown. The Maretzki extra point put the Black Knights ahead, 17-10.

The Midshipmen immediately answered. On their first play in overtime, Xavier Arline completed his only pass of the day, a 25-yard completion to Marquel Heywood on a wheel route for the touchdown. It was only Arline’s fourth completed pass of the season. Nichols extra point tied the score at 17-17 and forced a second overtime period.

There were 125 rushing plays combined during the 2022 Army-Navy game held in Philadelphia. That compares to just 16 pass attempts during the whole game. The battle truly belonged in the trenches. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

Navy had the first possession of the second overtime and went back to the run game. Six consecutive runs put the ball on the Army 3-yard line on third and goal. The Midshipmen elected to go for a touchdown and put the ball in Anton Hall’s hands. Hall picked up two of the three yards, but Army linebacker Austin Hill forced a fumble, which nose tackle Darius Richardson recovered at the 1-yard line.

The Black Knights, starting at the Navy 25, ran three consecutive rushing plays, being careful to protect the ball each time. This set up a Maretzki 39-yard field goal and the Army 20-17 win in double overtime and their third consecutive win over Navy in Philadelphia.

Army attempted 12 passes, completing two of them for 28 yards, while Navy attempted four and completed one for 25 yards. The rushing game was different, however. The Black Knights attempted 48 rushes for 125 yards and a 2.6 yards-per-carry average, while the Midshipmen ran 57 times for 259 yards for a 4.5 yards-per-carry average. Navy punted 10 times to Army’s 9. Each team fumbled once. The Midshipmen defense recorded two sacks to zero for the Black Knights.

Navy’s Xavier Arline led all rushers with 28 attempts for 102 yards, and teammate Anton Hall carried seven times for 99 yards. Army was led by Tyhier Tyler’s 23 carries for 62 yards.

“What a win. What a game. First of all, just credit to the Navy team and how hard they
fought. That was two football teams that fought just as hard as they possibly could,” said Army head coach Jeff Monken. “It feels like every single play, that the game is hanging in the balance. That’s the intensity of this game. It was fought that way from start to finish. I still don’t know how we won, but our guys just found a way. They just found a way.”

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said, “Obviously disappointed for our guys. They put everything on the line. There is not much to tell. You hurt. Your kids are devastated. The kids put everything on the line today. You just tell them you love them. You love the seniors. It is hard. What do you tell someone when your heart gets ripped out.”

Niumatalolo was quick to point out that the loss was not Anton Hall’s fault, despite the fumble at the one yard line. “I love the kid. You feel for him. People are just hugging him. No words will console him. He is an awesome, awesome kid. I just feel bad for him, that it comes to this. But there are other plays. That’s just the one at the end that we all see. Obviously he had that one long run,” said Niumatalolo. “The kid is super talented. To put this loss on Anton is not what I am saying. That was one play [and] there were lots of other plays throughout the course of the game. Don’t put this loss on Anton Hall.”

Navy right tackle Kip Frankland said, “We didn’t put enough points on the board to go win a game. Hats off to Anton. He had the biggest run of the game. He kept us in the game. Anton saved the game for us. He took us to overtime. We could’ve blocked better. If we blocked better on that play no one touches him. That’s not on Anton, that’s on us not getting the job done.”

“I had a knot in my stomach like I was going to throw up down there on the two-yard line. It’s agonizing to see that. It’s hard for them not to score down there. They’re knocking on the door, your back is to the wall, that’s a hard stop,” said Monken regarding the Navy’s second overtime drive. “Our guys have done it before, so giving them some confidence. It’s just the will. It’s just the will that their team and our team just fighting like crazy. You know, their kids fighting to get into the end zone with that ball, and our kids are fighting to keep them out of the end zone.”

Army quarterback Cade Ballard receives protection from left guard Jackson Filipowicz during the 2022 Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia. Photo by James C. Garman/Sportspage Magazine

Army quarterback Cade Ballard, who is graduating in the spring, reflected on his time with the Black Knights and this rivalry game, “To play in a game of this magnitude, the rivalry that it is, it’s special. The game kind of goes how I feel my career’s gone here. You keep your head down and you keep working. When you do that, good things are going to happen.”

Navy safety John Marshall had similar sentiments. “The football game, whether you win or lose, at the end of the day, teaches you a lot about yourself. I know a lot of people in that locker room and how they are under pressure and how they are in crunch time. I know a lot of the seniors going to hell and back are not going to fold and that is someone that I want to my left and my right the whole time. I think with that narrative and that message, that is what you have to take out of this. We are a resilient senior class and we did a lot of good things here given the circumstances and we played football the right way,” he said.

Holding to a tradition that began in 2008, both teams wore special uniforms made just for this occasion. Navy’s uniform honors the 54 Sailors who became astronauts for NASA. It features the photo of astronaut Bruce McCandless II’s “untethered spacewalk” from STS-41B on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984, taken by astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson, on the right side of the helmet, with the NASA logo on the other side. The NASA astronaut pin given to Mercury 7 astronauts is depicted inside the red stripe on the center of the helmet. The all-white uniform with red stripes and the American flag mimics the markings found on NASA spacewalk suits. The left front shoulder bears the patch of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that provided flight data tracking support during John Glenn’s February 1962 first orbital mission in Friendship 7 as part of Project Mercury.

Army’s uniform honors the 1st Armored Division for their role in World War II, on the occasion of November 2022 being the 80th Anniversary of Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa. A 48-star American flag is centered on the back of the olive drab helmet (48 stars was the flag used during World War II, as Alaska and Hawaii were added as states later). Above the facemask is the ribbon from the European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal that was first authorized for use on November 6, 1942, with an arrowhead device to recognize those who participated in airborne or amphibious assault landings. The division patch, a triangle with the colors yellow, blue and red with a badge and the numeral “1” inside, is worn on both sides of the helmet. The division’s motto, “Old Ironsides,” is displayed on a sticker on the back of the helmet. The rest of the uniform features olive grab to mud color with a “mud spatter” pattern starting at the helmet and descending to the pants. Each player will have his cadet regiment number inside of a gold star on his right chest and on the back of the helmet. His cadet company mascot is printed underneath the gold star on his right chest. The 1st Armored Division vehicle identification insignia is also worn on the pants.

The Army-Navy game ends the season for both teams. The Black Knights finished with a 6-6 record while the Midshipmen concluded the season sporting a 4-8 final record. Neither team qualified for a Bowl game.

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