It was as wacky as it was long.
Bethune-Cookman blew a 26-0 lead and gave up five fumbles in nine plays, but outlasted Virginia State 63-57 in eight overtimes in the longest game in NCAA Division I history."I've never been in a game like this," Bethune-Cookman coach Alvin Wyatt Sr. said after Saturday night's 4-hour, 50-minute marathon. "And I never want to be in another."
The victory gave Bethune-Cookman (3-0) its best start since 1978, and a place in the record books.
The eight overtimes eclipsed the previous record of six in three previous games, including a 59-58 victory by Florida A&M over Hampton in 1996.
Quarterback Pa'tell Troutman scored the game-winner on a 26-yard keeper. He also scored two of Bethune-Cookman's first four touchdowns, but was benched after the third quarter and did not play in the first seven overtimes.
"He has the athletic abilities and after seven overtimes, he had fresh legs and a lot of rest," Wyatt said.
The five fumbles in the third quarter allowed Virginia State to get back into the game with 30 straight points.
Down 33-26, Bethune-Cookman tied it with 3:27 remaining on a 1-yard run by Johnny Hart. Bethune-Cookman had a chance to win on the final play of regulation, but Alton Bolden's field goal try was blocked.
In overtime, Virginia State scored on Charles Thomas' 2-yard run, Devero Kearney's 8-yard run, a 36-yard Isaac Johnson field goal and an 11-yard pass from Antonio Hawkins to Desmond Thornton.
Bethune-Cookman answered each time.
Lineman Damion Cook had a chance to end the game in the seventh overtime when he blocked a field goal attempt. He picked up the ball, but came up one yard short when he dove for the end zone.
"It has taken us a long time to be a 3-0 team and this one game took a long time, so I guess it's fitting," Wyatt said. "I'm so satisfied, so proud, with the heart of our athletes. They dug down deep and played tough."
Hawkins led the Trojans with 294 yards passing and three touchdown passes.
The other six-overtime games were Villanova's 41-35 victory over Connecticut in 1989 and Rhode Island's 58-55 win over Maine in 1982.