The Navy Midshipmen coaching staff gave Garret Lewis the nod at starting quarterback and lined up former quarterback Malcolm Perry in the slot on the Midshipmen’s opening drive of the day - a decision that proved to be a significant contributor in Navy’s 24-21 halftime lead. Unfortunately for the Midshipmen, that three point lead was not enough to pull off the home upset as the Midshipmen couldn’t get much going in the second half and ultimately suffered a 49-36 loss on Saturday.
After an opening three and out by Houston (6-1, 3-0), the Navy offense looked to be firing on all cylinders on their first few drives - showing glimpses of the Navy offense we have all grown to love. The Midshipmen piled up 112 total yards, with 100 of them coming on the ground, in their first two drives of the contest. With that success, Navy was able to take a 10-7 lead through the first quarter after the Cougars and Midshipmen exchanged touchdowns on the final two possessions of the first 15 minutes.
After a missed 41-yard field goal by Houston’s Dalton Witherspoon to begin the second quarter, Navy started at their own 24-yard line and managed to move the ball 76-yards in a nearly seven minute drive that concluded with a one-yard touchdown run by Zach Abey (his first touch of the game). Houston had very little problem responding though, as the Cougars managed to put a touchdown drive together in just two minutes of work that brought the game back to within three, a 17-14 lead for Navy.
On the ensuing Navy drive, the offense hated on all the “not a quick strike offense” commentators with a two-play (45 seconds) 75-yard drive that led to Tazh Maloy’s first career touchdown - an impressive 32-yard rush that was a triple option beauty.
Houston then responded with its own two-play scoring drive and scored in only 27 seconds - obviously trying to one-up the Midshipmen offensive performance with quick scoring drives of their own. From there, it looked like neither team could quite keep up with the scoring madness in the first half as Navy couldn’t get anything going on their final two possessions, even after recovering a Cougar fumble at the Houston 30-yard line.
Houston managed to force a Navy punt to start the second-half and the Cougars never really had to look back. Led by quarterback D’Eriq King, the AAC West leaders showed no problems moving down the field by putting together an 88-yard touchdown drive that gave Houston a 28-24 lead halfway through the third quarter. While the Navy offense showed some signs of life in the second-half, it wasn’t enough to mount a serious threat to the Cougars’ undefeated conference record.
D’Eriq King managed to finish the game with 413 passing yards, his second 400 yard game of his career, and threw for three touchdowns through the air. King also contributed to 56 of Houston’s 161 rushing yards and scored a touchdown of his own on the ground. On the ground or through the air, the Navy defense was unable to contain Major Applewhite’s fast-paced offense.
While Houston looked to execute their offense at will in the second half, Navy looked less dynamic with the ball after Malcolm Perry suffered what looked like a leg injury early in the third quarter. The Midshipmen did manage to find the end-zone twice in the last five minutes of the second half by way of a 14-yard touchdown run by Myles Fells and a 15-yard touchdown reception by Taylor Jackson.
Navy looks to continue battling through the most strenuous stretch of their season when they head to San Diego to “host” an undefeated Notre Dame team that is enjoying a bye week to prep for Navy’s triple option offense.