Army tops Navy, 20-17, in first OT game in 123 rivalry games

Danny Wild-USA Today Sports
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PHILADELPHIA – Navy running back Anton Hall Jr. collapsed to the ground and buried his face in his hands. West Point cadets spilled from the stands onto the field and joined Army players who ripped off their helmets and ran around in celebration.

Hall’s push toward the end zone in the second overtime — and first OT game in Army-Navy history — resulted in a fumble that Army recovered. The Black Knights went from potentially playing for a tie to simply playing for a winning score.

“Somehow, the ball got loose and we hit that thing when we needed to,” Army coach Jeff Monken said.

Quinn Maretzki kicked the game-winning 39-yard field goal after he had sent the game into overtime with a 37-yarder late in the fourth quarter and led Army past The Midshipmen 20-17 on Saturday night in the first OT game in the 123 matchups of “America’s Game.”

“It’s obviously a big moment, but I try my best to put that aside,” Maretzki said. “Just being able to block everything out, (my teammates) just made that job so easy for me. So I just had to go out there and not even really think.”

Hall — who earlier raced 77 yards for a TD and 10-7 lead — coughed up the ball as he plunged toward the end zone and stood crestfallen as Maretzki prepared to kick the winner. Hall dropped to the ground as the kick sailed through the uprights and he was consoled by teammate Amin Hassan. But the fullback’s fumble forced by Austin Hill and recovered by defensive lineman Nate Smith will forever be etched on the highlight reel of game-changing plays in the series.

“The game is not lost with him. That could happen to anyone that was carrying the ball on that one play,” Navy QB Xavier Arline said. “They made a good play. That’s football. That’s life. The game was not lost within that one play.”

Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo stood hunched on the sideline and could not stomach to watch the final field goal.

“What do you tell them when you get your heart broken,” Niumatalolo said. “We were in the driver’s seat. We were feeling pretty good. Unfortunately, the game slipped out of our hands.”

The offense was stagnant throughout the game until the waning moments of regulation when Maretzki kicked the 37-yarder with 1:53 left to tie the game at 10-all.

A thrilling overtime followed.

The NCAA instituted overtime in 1996, and the series had never had to go a little extra to settle one of the sport’s greatest rivalry games.

Army’s Markel Johnson ran 25 yards for a touchdown on the first play of overtime for a 17-10 lead, and Navy matched the Black Knights when Arline tossed a 25-yard touchdown pass to Maquel Haywood that made it 17-all.

It was Navy’s first completion of the game and Arline had perhaps the sweetest 1 of 1 for 25-yard game in Navy history. He also rushed for 102 yards.

Navy still leads the series against Army 62-54-7. The Black Knights, though, have won five of the last seven meetings.

Army finished 6-6; Navy was 4-8.

“This team never stopping fighting, they never stopped believing,” Monken said. “Somehow, some way, we found a way to get it done tonight. It was an epic battle. It was one I’ll remember for a long time, probably forever.”

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 down 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 on a penalty on 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 — after almost knocking the ball out of the end zone — for the touchdown and a 7-3 lead.

That bit of excitement in front of a packed house of 69,117 at Lincoln Financial Field just about made up for 29 minutes of two offenses that could not move the ball down field.

The first half ended with 0 passing yards. From both teams. Zero.

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 – this season. That’s about 2 1/2 games of yardage on the same field 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. The hours before kickoff were highlighted by the Army Corps of Cadets and the Brigade of Midshipmen march onto the field. The Navy “Leap Frogs” parachute team earned a roar from the crowd with each safe landing on the field. Mark Wahlberg even made an appearance and leaped into a crowd of midshipmen and then received an award for his work with the military.


It was the 90th time the game was played in Philadelphia, including 38 straight times from 1945 to 1982.

The series is hitting the road starting with next season’s game in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The 2024 game is at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland; 2025 is at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore; and 2026 is at MetLife Stadium, the New Jersey home of the Jets and Giants just outside New York City. The game returns to Philly in 2027.

Georgia extends contract for AD Josh Brooks, plans two new football practice fields


ATHENS, Ga. – On the heels of a second straight national football championship, Georgia has rewarded athletic director Josh Brooks a contract extension that ties him to the Bulldogs through at least 2029.

The athletic association board, wrapping up its annual spring meeting Friday at a resort on Lake Oconee, also announced plans for a new track and field facility that will free up space for two more football practice fields.

Brooks’ new contract will increase his salary to $1.025 million a year, with annual raises of $100,000.

The 42-year-old Brooks, who took over the athletic department in 2021 after Greg McGarity retired, called the Georgia job “a dream for me” and said he hopes to spend the rest of his career in Athens.

“I am extremely grateful,” Brooks said. “I got into this business 20-plus years ago as a student equipment manager. My first job at Louisiana-Monroe was making $20,000 a year in football operations.”

The Georgia board approved a fiscal 2024 budget of $175.2 million, a nearly 8% increase from the most recent budget of $162.2 million and the sign of a prosperous program that is flush with money after its success on the gridiron.

The school received approval to move forward with its preliminary plans for a new track and field facility, which will be built across the street from the complex hosting the soccer and and softball teams.

The current track stadium is located adjacent to the Butts-Mehre athletic facility, which hosts the practice fields and training facilities for the football program.

Georgia lost a chunk of its outdoor fields when it built a new indoor practice facility. After the new track and field stadium is completed, the current space will be converted to two full-length, grass football practice fields at the request of coach Kirby Smart.

“He wants to find efficient ways to practice, and there is a lot of truth to the issues we’ve had with our current practice fields,” Brooks said. “There is a lot of strain on our turf facilities staff to keep that field in great shape when half the day it is getting shade, so that has been a challenge as well. For our football program, it is better to practice on grass fields than (artificial) turf, so to be able to have two side-by-side grass fields is huge. It makes for a much more efficient practice.”

The new track and field complex, which will continue to be named Spec Towns Track, will also include an indoor facility, the first of its kind in the state of Georgia.

Iowa AD Gary Barta announces retirement after 17 years at Big Ten school

Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa athletic director Gary Barta will retire on August 1 after 17 years at the university, the school announced Friday.

Barta, 59, is one of the longest-tenured athletic directors in a Power Five conference. He was hired by Iowa in 2006 after being the AD at Wyoming.

An interim director will be announced next week, Iowa said.

In September, Iowa hired former Ball State athletic director Beth Goetz to be deputy director of athletics and chief operating officer, putting her in position to possibly succeed Barta.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honor to serve in this role the past 17 years,” Barta said in a statement. “This decision didn’t come suddenly, nor did it come without significant thought, discussion, and prayer.”

“That said, I’m confident this is the right time for me and for my family.”

Iowa won four NCAA national team titles and 27 Big Ten team titles during Barta’s tenure. The women’s basketball team is coming off an appearance in the national championship game and the wrestling team is coming off a second-place finish at the NCAA championships.

Barta served as the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee in 2020 and 2021.

He faced heavy criticism over more than $11 million in settlements for lawsuits in recent years alleging racial and sexual discrimination within the athletic department.

Lawsuits filed by former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum and associate athletics director Jane Meyer led to a $6.5 million payout.

Iowa had to pay $400,000 as part of a Title IX lawsuit brought by athletes after it cut four sports in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the agreement, Iowa reinstated the women’s swimming and diving program and add another women’s sport.

Iowa added women’s wrestling, the first among Power Five schools to compete this year.

A lawsuit brought by former football players alleging racial discrimination within the program was settled for $4.2 million last March, which prompted state auditor Rob Sand to call for Barta’s ouster.

“Gary Barta’s departure is a long time coming given the four different lawsuits for discrimination that cost Iowa more than $11 million,” Sand posted on Twitter.

The university did not allow taxpayer money to be used for the settlement with the former players.

Barta led Iowa through $380 million of facility upgrades, including renovation of Kinnick Stadium, the construction of a new football facility, a basketball practice facility and a training center for the wrestling teams.

Under Barta, Iowa has had just one head football coach (Kirk Ferentz), women’s basketball coach (Lisa Bluder) and wrestling coach (Tom Brands). All were in place when he arrived.

Barta has also come under scrutiny for allowing Ferentz to employee his son, Brian Ferentz, as offensive coordinator. To comply with the university’s nepotism policy, Brian Ferentz reports to Barta.