On a chilly and rainy fall afternoon in Annapolis, Navy honored the class of 2020 on Senior Day. Just two days earlier this same group of seniors learned their service assignments, which was covered by Gavin here. Their focus on this day, however, was continuing the 17-year winning streak on senior day – Navy has won every such contest since 2002. These seniors were not interested in seeing that end on their watch.
SMU elected to receive the ball to start the game, but it didn’t take long for them to cough it up when Mike Flowers forced an Xavier Jones fumble that was recovered by Jackson Pittman deep in Navy Territory.
Navy was unable to convert the turnover into points as the usually reliable Bijan Nicols missed a 41-yard Field Goal. The Navy defense, however, came right back and forced a three-and-out.
Navy would drive to score a TD on this beautiful reverse by Chance Warren that was secured by some great blocking from Ford Higgins and Mychal Cooper.
SMU wasted no time in returning the favor as CJ Sanders took the kickoff 100 yards to pay dirt to even the score 7-7.
The rest of the half was forgettable for Navy, as SMU’s defense would effectively smother the Mids. The only good news for Navy was a field goal, which wouldn’t be enough to keep up with the Mustangs. SMU would score two more touchdowns, including one that went 42 yards in 22 seconds on 2 plays. The Mustangs would go into the half with a comfortable 21-10 lead.
The Second Half Was Quite A Different Story
Navy came out of the half and put together an extended drive, lasting six plus minutes, with a mix of plays that resulted in a Malcolm Perry TD on 4th and 1 at the goal line. Perry racked up more rushing yards on the drive (19) than he did the entire first half (14).
SMU was looking to strike back quick via a big return with a little bit of trickery. But it wouldn’t matter because the Navy defense forced another three-and- out. Another sustained Navy drive ended in a 24-yard field goal for Nichols to close the lead to one point – 21-20 SMU.
The Navy defense was not done with their big second half and forced their third three-and-out of the game, limiting the SMU offense to six snaps and two possessions in the 3rd quarter.
This was the second most important stat at the end of the 3rd quarter:
Malcolm Perry had 14 rushing yards on 13 carries at halftime. Perry now has 91 yards on 28 carries. @NavyFB— Bill Wagner (@BWagner_CapGaz) November 23, 2019
The first was time of possession; SMU was at 13:13 for the game (end of the third) and 1:29 in the 3rd quarter.
The Fourth Quarter Got Interesting
Perry hit Ryan Mitchell on a drag route across the middle for a Navy touchdown. The Mids would call a time out and go for two where Perry hit CJ Williams for the 2-point conversion. Navy took the lead 28-21.
SMU tried to run it out from the goal line on the kickoff and barely made it to the 15 yard line. They would quickly score a touchdown for their first points of the second half and tie the game.
SMU then tried an oddly timed, and very poorly executed, onside kick; giving Navy the ball on the SMU 44. The Mids failed to do anything with the great field position, and turned the ball over on downs, after going for it on 4th and 9. The Navy defense stepped up once again and forced another SMU three-and-out, the third of the half, and fourth of the game. The Navy offense capitalized on the opportunity and collected another seven points on a huge Malcolm Perry 70 yard TD run. If you have never heard a Navy call on the radio, you are missing out, because Pete Medhurst is one of the best in the business. Here is his call:
It's magic for Malcolm Perry as the #NavyFB Sr QB runs for 70 yards and a touchdown to give the Mids a 35 to 28 lead over SMU with 6:11 to go in the 4th quarter in Annapolis#RaiseTheSail #BuiltDifferent #GoNavy https://t.co/2MK5lRrmsA— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) November 23, 2019
I won’t deprive you of the video though, so here is that too:
With more than six minutes left on the clock, the high-powered SMU offense got the ball back with three timeouts, down by just 7 points. The Mustangs quickly made their way to the red zone where they would attempt four plays and failed to score or convert, giving the ball back to Navy with 2:36 left in the game.
Navy was able to run out the clock after the Mids drew the Mustangs offside on fourth down, which would give Navy enough yardage for the first down, and the opportunity to run out the rest of the clock. SMU Head Coach Sonny Dykes was very unhappy with the offside call:
Sonny Dykes: "I thought the way the game ended [with the offside penalty] was bush league. I thought that was a bush league deal. ... It's too bad [the referees] didn't give our players a chance to finish the game. ... The officials took the game away from the players."— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) November 24, 2019
Navy held the ball for 39:40, and outgained SMU by nearly 200 total yards. The star of the day was Perry who racked up 162 yards through the air and another 195 on the ground with 3 total touchdowns.
The defense also played lights out as a unit, denying the Mustangs any significant amount of time on the field, and allowing only half the points and nearly 200 fewer yards than SMU’s season average.
What Does this Win Mean?
Navy will travel to Texas next weekend to face Houston for their final regular season AAC matchup. This Mids will need Memphis to lose to Cincinnati next Friday night to have a shot at winning the AAC West outright. If Memphis loses and Navy wins, then Navy will be the division champion. If Memphis and Navy both win, then Memphis and Navy will share the West title, but Memphis will go to the AAC Championship because they have the tiebreaker over Navy, having won the head-to-head matchup.
Either way, Navy is playing meaningful football games in November as they build up to Army-Navy, and that’s exciting!