WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Darnell Woolfolk scored on a bruising 7-yard run up the middle in the second overtime, sophomore quarterback Cam Thomas rushed for 137 yards and one touchdown in his first career start, and Army held off Miami of Ohio 31-30 on Saturday.
Army (5-2) remained unbeaten at home this season and extended its winning streak at Michie Stadium to 10 games. Miami (3-5) had won two straight and three of four after beginning the season with three straight losses.
The teams each kicked a field goal in the first overtime and the RedHawks scored a touchdown in the second, but coach Chuck Martin elected to go for the victory and quarterback Gus Ragland nearly stunned the Black Knights. Hit and falling to the turf, he somehow completed a sideline pass to Kenny Young on the right side but he was stopped at the 2.
Army was without starting quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr., who suffered a lower-body injury last week in a win at San Jose State, and safety James Gibson, out with an upper-body injury.
Miami had scored 149 points in its previous four games, surpassing 30 in each, but it’s hard to score without the ball. Army limited the RedHawks to just three possessions in the first half, taking a 14-7 lead into the halftime break.
Army entered the game averaging 313.5 yards on the ground and topped the nation in possession time at just under 40 minutes a game behind Hopkins, who leads the team in rushing. Thomas acquitted himself well in his debut, not committing a turnover.
Army led 21-7 entering the fourth quarter in a game that featured 14 fourth-down plays, and the RedHawks were forced to gamble eight times because possessions were limited by Army’s triple option. On its first drive of the quarter, Miami converted twice on fourth down and once on a third-and-8 play to keep a critical drive alive, but with the game on the line Ragland was stopped on a fourth-and-6 play at the Army 23, the 16-play surge coming to an abrupt halt.
Undaunted, the RedHawks forced a three-and-out and rallied behind Ragland, who completed eight passes for 68 yards in a 68-yard drive that took just 1:54. His 3-yard toss to Dominique Robinson cut the lead to seven with 4:23 left.
Miami tied it after its defense forced another three-and-out, driving 82 yards in 16 plays and converting twice on fourth down. The tying score came on Ragland’s 5-yard play-action pass to Nate Becker on fourth down with 17 seconds left in the fourth.
Woolfolk also scored on a 2-yard run in the first quarter and Andy Davidson added an 11-yard scoring run in the second, completing a 15-play drive that took 8:30 off the clock.
Miami finally got untracked and scored quickly, with Ragland hitting a wide-open Young on the left side for a 34-yard touchdown midway through the opening quarter.
The RedHawks forced Army to punt two straight times in the third quarter but couldn’t put anything together offensively, also punting twice.
The Black Knights finally took advantage, driving 80 yards and taking a 21-7 lead with Thomas leading the charge. He ripped off a 52-yard run, bursting untouched over right tackle and then scored from the 1 with 8 seconds left in the quarter.
Miami: The RedHawks are 3-1 in the Mid-American Conference and second in the East Division, just behind Buffalo (4-0), in good position to challenge for a conference title. They play the Bulls on the road next week.
Army: Coach Jeff Monken has molded a team that can thrive even when key players are injured. The performance by Thomas in his first college start has to give the team added confidence going forward as service academy rival Air Force visits in two weeks. Last year Army won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, emblematic of supremacy among the three service academies, for the first time since 1996.
DODGING A BULLET
Army coach Jeff Monken had the game scripted just as he wanted in the waning seconds of the first half. The Black Knights drove to the Miami 1 and the RedHawks were facing a daunting task as Army was poised to go up 21-7 on fourth down on the final play before halftime. Army entered the game having converted 19 of 21 fourth downs and had converted its first three in the game. Miami linebacker Brad Koenig foiled the attempt, though, stopping the 235-pound Woolfolk in his tracks and shy of the goal line. That kept the RedHawks within a touchdown despite only three possessions in the first half as Army held the ball for 22:59.
Miami: Plays at Mid-American Conference foe Buffalo on Oct. 30.
Army: Plays at Eastern Michigan next Saturday.