There wasn’t much the SMU Mustangs could do about Malcolm Perry on Saturday in Annapolis.
The pint-sized senior ran for 195 and two touchdowns on 38 carries, and then he threw for 162 yards and a score while completing 9-of-15 passes.
And then, on the final meaningful play of the game, he didn’t even need to snap the ball to beat the Mustangs. He had them fooled and it clinched the victory for the Midshipmen.
It was 4th-and-2 with 65 seconds to play. A first down would seal the win for Navy. Instead of snapping the ball and trying to ram it up the gut or scamper to the outside for the first down, Navy went with the hard count, and SMU fell for it. Perry played it perfectly, the Mustangs jumped, yellow flags flew and Navy won.
Perry’s eye-popping numbers on the stat sheet were enough for him to win the Commander-In-Chief’s MVP award from this here blog this week, but his poise in that crucial situation, against one of the best teams in the American Athletic Conference, was impressive and important.
“Basically, we lined up,” Perry told The Athletic. “Tried to sell the QB sneak. They didn’t jump. We gathered ourselves, made it look like a play that we run a lot, sold it a lot. The offensive line did a great job jumping to a set when they jumped offsides. That was a huge play.”
The 5-foot-9 senior from Clarksville, Tennessee didn’t just lead the Midshipmen to another victory; he drew the map, steered the ship and fired the cannons. Perry carried the ball THIRTY EIGHT times — a number unheard of for most quarterbacks in most offenses — and then threw it 15 times. The rock was in his hands for most of the afternoon and he played at his best. He never turned the ball over and he rarely made a mistake.
“We kind of put everything on Malcolm’s shoulders,” Ken Niumatalolo told the Washington Post. “He actually told me at one time, ‘Coach, you’ve got to give me a break, man; give somebody else the ball.’ I was like, ‘Hey, suck it up; we need you.’ I didn’t realize he carried the ball 38 times.”
Perry has been impressive all season long for the Midshipmen and has been one of the best players in all of college football in 2019. He’s fifth in the nation in rushing yards (1,354), and fourth in rushing touchdowns (18). He’s thrown six passing touchdowns this season and has a yards-per-attempt average of 12.3.
And according to Pro Football Focus, Perry has forced 52 missed tackles this year — the most by any FBS quarterback — and has 37 rushes of 10 yards or more, which is the most of any player in FBS. Big-Play-Perry is what we could call him.
Perry’s play has helped Navy get ranked in every relevant poll this season and he’s a big reason why they’re in a position to potentially play for an AAC title.
While Air Force’s D.J. Hammond III isn’t the winner this week, his play vs. New Mexico has to be mentioned. In a 44-22 win for the Falcons, Hammond completed 9-of-10 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns. And then he rushed 11 times for 41 yards and another score.
Simply put, Hammond was fantastic. Perry was just a little bit better and played against a better opponent.