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.

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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.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.