Xavier Arline Ready for Stint as Navy's Starting Quarterback


Xavier Arline finishes his game-winning 23-yard touchdown run on October 29 against Temple.

Xavier Arline took the snap under center from the 23-yard line and faked the handoff to his left. As a Temple defensive lineman Darian Varner rushed off the left edge, Arline turned on the jets.

The 5-9 quarterback for Navy tucked the ball and hammered the hole between the left tackle and left guard. His quick burst, like he was shot from the cannon that blasts on the sideline after Navy scores, made him uncatchable.

He went untouched until Temple safety Elijah Deravil swiped at his ankle on the 2-yard line, but Arline’s momentum was enough to catapult him into the endzone for what proved to be the winning touchdown in overtime Saturday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Arline — who also plays on the men’s lacrosse team — entered the game as the backup quarterback to Tai Lavatai, but he went down with a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter. Arline was not your typical backup suddenly thrust into action. He started three games in 2020 — including as the only Navy quarterback in over 100 years to start an Army-Navy game in West Point — and two more games in 2021. He was the backup in 2022 until the injury forced him into the game to preserve a 13-0 lead.

It wasn’t perfect. Arline fumbled with 13:49 left in the third quarter, and Jordan Layton recovered the loose ball for a touchdown, getting Temple within 13-10. Arline bounced back, marching down the field on a 12-play, 56-yard drive that culminated in an Anton Hall touchdown run and a 20-10 lead.

Arline finished Saturday with 16 carries for 54 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He was 0-for-1 passing and is 11-for-34 passing in his career. The Mids, who are 3-5 entering a daunting four-game slate against Cincinnati, Notre Dame, UCF and Army, expect more of Arline the rest of the way as the unquestioned starter.

“I told him after the game I was proud of him because he bounced back after that fumble,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said Monday during his weekly media availability. “You know, those are hard to overcome — a fumble for a touchdown. Those can be pretty catastrophic. But to his credit, to show the fortitude early on, he bounced back and scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime. So again, it shows his resolve, shows his grit, to be able to bounce back like that. And we need him to bounce back.”

Not lacking in confidence, Arline said he’s ready to help the Mids salvage what’s been a rocky season.

“You can’t fake experience,” Arline said Tuesday. “You know, I have a bunch of it. I’ve played in some big games, so I’m not going to overthink it. It’s a football game. You’ve got to go out there, you’ve got to execute, you’ve got to lead. And it’s as simple as that.”

An offense that’s historically been run-first will continue to place an emphasis on the triple-option, a strength of Arline’s. A shifty runner, the Shoreham-Wading River (N.Y.) High School product doesn’t necessarily excel as a thrower. Niumatalolo said he’ll cater the offense to Arline’s skills, though he’ll have to prove he can complete passes to prevent defenses from stacking 11 men in the box to stuff the run.

It’s a potentially monumental task for Arline entering such a brutal stretch, but he said he prepares each week as if he’s the starter anyway. The only thing different is the attention he’s garnering in the lead-up to Saturday’s contest on the road in Cincinnati.

It helps to have a strong support system. Arline, of course, has his football teammates. But he also has his teammates in lacrosse to lift him up. An attackman, Arline started five of the six games he appeared in last spring and contributed five goals, three assists and six ground balls.

“I can’t thank them enough for the support of each and every one of them,” Arline said. “And it starts with Coach [Joe] Amplo and the coaching staff. I mean, before I even joined the lacrosse team, Coach Amplo always called me. I had nothing to do with lacrosse, but I was dealing with football. ‘How are things going here?’ So, I’m always really, really appreciative of how they help me, let me do my thing over here and just continue to support me. And the guys on the team are always in my corner. It’s a blessing to have two sets of brothers behind you.”


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