PHILADELPHIA, PA – In front of a crowd of 69,117, Army and Navy met for the 123rd time in Philadelphia, the first time in the City of Brotherly Love since 2019.
Navy received the opening kickoff after Army won the toss and deferred. Junior DL Chris Frey blew up an early Navy option play in the backfield for a loss of four taking down QB Xavier Arline. The Navy drive stalled out just across midfield, coming up empty after a drive that lasted 8:41. Army’s offense opened the game featuring two quarterbacks in the backfield. Senior Cade Ballard took the opening snap with Senior Tyhier Tyler lined up at slotback and continued for the opening drive. Army would only run four plays on offense in the first quarter compared to Navy’s 18 (51 yards). Continuing to use shotgun to start the second quarter, Ballard attempted a deep pass down the middle of the field to WR Cole Caterbone but his sliding catch attempt came up short.
The Midshipmen would strike first when K Bijan Nicholas connected on a 44-yard field goal with 12:36 to go in the second quarter, making it a 3-0 game. Army picked up a first down for the first time with 8:44 to play in the half. The Black Knights would eventually punt on the possession, with Billy Boehlke pinning Navy inside its own 10-yard line with 46-yard boot. Army got the ball back with 4:56 remaining, starting within Navy territory for the first time. Army was unable to capitalize, coming up short on fourth down from the Mids’ 32-yard line.
Forcing another Navy punt on the ensuing drive from the 31, freshman DB Noah Short came up with the biggest play of the first half, blocking Riley Riethman’s punt with freshman DB Jabrill Williams chasing down the ball in the end zone, recovering for a special teams touchdown, by the thinnest of margins as Williams’ used every inch of the end zone to remain inbounds for the score. Army took a 7-3 lead into the break, despite just one first down and 33 yards of offense.
In the second half, Army’s opening drive would stall out after seeing its biggest gain of the day by virtue of a Tyhier Tyler 13-yard run. Army’s defense forced another punt which saw punt returner Cam Jones gain a career-h 19 yards on the return to start Army’s ensuing drive at the Navy 40-yard line. On the drive Tyhier Tyler would break free and run for the endzone what would have been a 40-yard touchdown but was called back due to a block in the back by WR Isaiah Alston.
Army was knocking on the door again at the Navy 24-yard line, but back-to-back mishaps on shotgun snaps led to fourth-and-thirty-five for Army after Markel Johnson recovered the third down loose ball well behind the line of scrimmage. RB Anton Hall broke free on the first play of Navy’s next drive, going 77 yards for a rushing touchdown which marked the longest rush in Navy’s history against Army.
With the score now 10-7 in favor of Navy, Army faced a fourth-and-one from their own 15 yard-line which was converted by a four-yard rush by RB Tyson Riley. The teams would then trade punts, with Army getting the ball back with 10:04 to play.
Army’s offense found some life when Ballard hit RB Braheam Murphy for a 26-yard reception to get to the Navy 48 yard-line. Army would convert another first down when WR Isaiah Alston drew a pass interference on a hitch-and-go to get Army to the Navy 34-yard line. Army was unable to produce points on the drive after taking a penalty, giving the ball back to the Mids with 7:31 to play.
The Black Knights defense stood strong once again, forcing its eighth punt of the night to give the offense one more chance to tie or take the lead. Getting the ball back with 5:21 left to play trailing, 10-7, it was time for the Army offense to put together a drive. With Ballard under center, Army started at its own 46 yard-line. Following a first down rush by Markel Johnson to get a first down, RB Ay’Jaun Marshall drew a pass inference penalty on a Ballard pass attempt to get down to the Navy 28 yard-line. With 1:53 left, K Quinn Maretzki drilled a 37-yard field goal to tie the game at 10 a piece.
Army’s defense held on the ensuring Navy drive and for the first time in the 123-year history of the Army-Navy Game, it headed to overtime.
In overtime, Navy won the toss and deferred, giving Army the first crack at scoring. On the first play RB Markell Johnson broke free and ran up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown, giving Army a 17-10 lead, needing a defensive stop to win the game.
However, Navy scored on its first play by way of a Xavier Arline 25-yard touchdown pass to Maquel Haywood, knotting the game at 17-17 sending game to a second overtime.
With Navy starting with possession in the second overtime, the Mids marched all the way down to the Army two-yard line, looking to go-ahead. Facing a third-and-goal, LB Kalvyn Crummie made arguably the biggest play in the game, making a hit and forcing a fumble on a rush from Navy’s Anton Hall, which DL Darius Richardson recovered as the Army defense made the defensive stand of the season.
Now needing just a field goal to win the ballgame, Army ran the ball three straight plays which set up Maretzki with his second big kick of the night. From 39 yards out, Maretzki again drilled the kick, sending the Army Black Knights off victorious, 20-17 vs. Navy.