OCEAN CITY - Mainland Regional High School coach Bob Coffey wasn't surprised his first triple overtime came against Ocean City.
Historically, these teams have played each other close, and many fans and players involved in the rivalry can recite its many special games.
Friday's Cape-Atlantic League American Conference game will be remembered for years, too. Mainland defeated Ocean city 22-16 in triple overtime when freshman quarterback Tom Bradway scored on a 2-yard run.
"This was over the top," said Coffey, who was happy his 3-0 team has its open week coming up. "I've been coaching a long time. I've never even had a double overtime. It's been one long night."
Afterward, exhaustion was apparent all around the field. The Mustangs hugged and high-fived, almost too tired to celebrate the three-hour game.
Meanwhile, Ocean City could hardly believed what had happened.
The Red Raiders were quiet afterward, thinking about the stunning loss.
"The kids are upset. They played their hearts out," Ocean City coach Mark Impagliazzo said. "It's a shame someone is called the loser because I don't think there were any losers in this game."
During the regular season, there are three overtime periods and no clock. Each team gets the ball on the opposing 25-yard line and has one possession to score. If after each team has had two possessions and the score is still tied, the game continues until the third overtime. In the third overtime, teams that score touchdowns must attempt a two-point conversion.
If it's still tied after that, it ends in a draw.
"I've been coaching for 26 years. We've had a lot of matchups over the years that are similar to this game," Impagliazzo said. "It will go down as one of the greatest games for these schools. People will be talking about it for a long time."
Bradway, who completed 8-of-16 passes for 58 yards, had one of his better series on Mainland's final possession.
He hit Eddie Irizarry for a 12-yard gain, and then ran the final 13 yards over three plays for the touchdown.
Ocean City couldn't score on its third overtime possession.
The Red Raiders had an opportunity when Mainland was called for passing interference in the end zone on fourth-and-goal.
Ocean City got a new set of downs but couldn't complete any of the four passes. On the final play, Mainland senior Antoine Lewis tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage.
"I told the D-line we have to step up because I knew they were going to throw the ball," Lewis said. "I just stuck my hand up and I got lucky."
In the second overtime, Mainland freshman Jim Cooper hit a 39-yard field goal to give Mainland a 16-13 lead.
Ocean City's Chris Curran connected with a 38-yard field goal to tie it.
Cooper's three field goals came at important moments. The first came in the second quarter to give Mainland a lead, the second with five seconds left in regulation to tie it 6-all and the third in the second overtime.
All in rough wind conditions.
"Playing in a game like this is just unreal," Cooper said. "When I came here, I thought the ball was going to go north-south, just down the field, but it wasn't doing that. (The wind) gets in a kicker's head, but you can't let it affect you."
In the first overtime, Curran found senior Josh Grande for a 9-yard touchdown pass, which made it 13-6. Curran completed 18-of-39 passes for 164 yards.
Mainland followed with Bradway's 1-yard touchdown run to knot it up at 13-all.
"This is probably the craziest game I've been other than the state championship game," said Irizarry, who had two catches for 23 yards and an interception on defense. "This game was crazy the whole way through. They came out so strong and they pounded us. We got the team together and ended up winning."
Mainland nearly gave the game away. The Mustangs turned the ball over five times. Bradway threw three interceptions and were all caught by Grande, which tied a school record.
"Both these teams are better defensively than they are offensively," Coffey said. "I know our offense is young. We know we got some work to do. Same thing with them, their offense is a little behind the defense, but they did a great job on defense."
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Mainland Regional 0 3 0 3 7 3 6 - 22
Ocean City 0 6 0 0 7 3 0-16
MR-Cooper 36 field goal
OC-Snow 2 run (kick failed)
MR-Cooper 25 field goal
OC-Grande 9 pass from Curran (Curran kick good)
MR-Bradway 1 run (Cooper kick good)
MR-Cooper 39 field goal
OC-Curran 38 field goal
MR-Bradway 2 run (pass failed)