Four quarters were not enough to determine the outcome in the Army-Navy football game Saturday.
For the first time ever, the rivalry went into overtime, and it proved to be a thriller. Navy lost a fumble at the goal line in the second overtime, helping to set up Army’s game-winning 39-yard field goal.
In 122 previous meetings, the teams did not need extra time to determine a winner. Army beat The Midshipmen 20-17 in Philadelphia.
The NCAA introduced overtime to games in 1996.
Offense was somewhat scarce throughout much of the contest. But, late in the fourth quarter, Army kicker Quinn Maretzki hit a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.
In the first play of overtime, Army’s Markel Johnson ran for 25 yards to give the Black Knights a 17-10 lead. Navy answered when Xavier Arline threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Maquel Haywood to once again tie the score.
It was Navy’s first completion of the game, and Arline had perhaps the finest 1-for-1 for 25 yards performance in Navy history. He also rushed for 102 yards.
Hall, who earlier raced 77 yards for a TD, coughed up the ball as he plunged toward the end zone. He stood dejected after the game at Lincoln Financial Field as fireworks went off.
The teams combined for only 53 yards passing.
One of Cade Ballard’s rare passing attempts for Army was a success when a pass interference call brought the ball to the 28 with 4 minutes left on a drive that set up Maretzki’s tying field goal.
Ballard was 2-of-10 passing for 26 yards.
Hall’s run up the middle in the third quarter was the biggest burst of offense of the game for either team. At that point, that run alone had outgained Army’s 69 total yards.
His run was a double gut punch to the Black Knights after QB Tyhier Tyler had a 40-yard touchdown run wiped out by a penalty the previous possession.
Hall provided one of the few highlights in a game full of wobbly punts, errant throws and a dearth of first downs.
The first spark came in the final seconds of the first half when Army’s Noah Short blocked Riley Riethaman’s punt, and Jabril Williams recovered for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead.
That bit of excitement in front of a packed house of 69,117 at the Linc just about made up for 29 minutes of two offenses that could not move the ball down field.
The first half ended with the teams combining for 0 passing yards.
That stat of futility wasn’t necessarily uncommon for either program. Navy won two games this season without completing a pass, and Army threw for 852 yards passing the entire season. That’s about 2½ games of passing yardage for Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts.
With points at a premium, Navy sent out Bijan Nichols for a long field goal, and his 44-yarder hugged the inside of the right goal post for a 3-0 lead in the second quarter.
Army finished the half 0-for-5 passing, failed to convert on 5 of 6 third downs and had 33 total yards in the half.
This game is rarely about quality football anyway and more about the pageantry and revelry of cadets and midshipmen standing, bouncing and cheering for their branch. Billed as “America’s Game,” the hours before kickoff were highlighted by the Army Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of Midshipmen marching onto the field. The Navy “Leap Frogs” parachute team earned a roar from the crowd with each safe landing on the field.
Navy leads the series against Army 62-54-7. The Black Knights, though, have won five of the last seven meetings. Army finished the season 6-6 and Navy was 4-8.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.