The Navy Midshipmen traveled to Houston to take on the Cougars in the last AAC Conference game of the year. Navy entered the game with a 9-2 record, but with no chance of playing in the AAC Championship Game due to Memphis’ Friday afternoon win over Cincinnati. The Houston Cougars came in with a disappointing 4-7 record, 2-5 in conference play.
The Midshipmen were without their top wide receiver, Mychal Cooper, and two A-backs, Tazh Maloy and Travis Brannan, due to injuries sustained in their 35-28 win last week over the SMU Mustangs.
First Half Shootout
The first quarter was a complete shootout. Navy and Houston combined for 378 yards of total offense and 35 points. The Midshipmen the lead, 21-14, after a pair of rushing touchdowns by B-back, Jamale Carothers and another by Malcolm Perry. Navy kicked off to start the game, but was able to earn back a possession in the first quarter after the Houston up-back botched a pooch kickoff that was recovered by Navy.
The Cougars quickly evened the score in the second quarter, 21-21, after they drove the length of the field in just over three minutes. Navy was forced to punt on their next drive, but got the ball back one play later when Carter Bankston intercepted Houston’s quarterback, Clayton Tune, deep in Houston territory. The Midshipmen capitalized on the Cougar’s second turnover of the game with a CJ Williams 3-yard rushing score.
After a couple of field goals by Cougar’s kicker, Dalton Witherspoon, Houston closed Navy’s lead to a single point by halftime, 28-27.
Second Half Finish
Navy received the kickoff. On the very first offensive play of the second half, Navy’s Jamale Carothers took a handoff 75 yards to the house for his third touchdown of the game.
After a missed field goal by Houston, Navy took over deep inside their own territory. The Midshipmen wasted a timeout trying to get Houston to jump offside on a 4th-and-1 from their own 29 yard line. Following the timeout, Malcolm Perry was unable to make the yard-to-gain, giving the Cougars great field position. Clayton Tune punished this risky decision when he tossed a 26-yard touchdown to Courtney Lark just a few plays later.
A scary moment for Navy came when Keoni-Kordell Makekau took a big hit after a long incomplete pass from Perry. Makekau walked off the field with the assistance of the athletic trainers.
Although, Navy lost Makekau for the rest of that drive, it resulted in another touchdown on the ground by Carothers - his fourth of the game that went for 29 yards.
Navy defensive back, Micah Farrar, intercepted Tune on Houston’s next drive. But, once again, Coach Ken Niumatalolo decided to go for it on fourth down deep in Navy’s own territory and was unsuccessful. Luckily, Tune threw another interception, this time to Kevin Brannan.
Malcolm Perry led the Midshipmen on an 8-play drive that ended in Tyreek King-El scoring his first touchdown of his college career, putting Navy up 49-34 with less than 10 minutes left in the game.
The Cougars battled back and drove down the field with ease. With just under six minutes left on the clock, Tune connected with Marquez Stevenson on a 4th-and-9, 22-yard touchdown to close Navy’s lead to just eight points. Tune finished the game 23-of-35, with 393 yards in the air and four touchdowns. However, he also had four interceptions.
Navy scored once again on the ensuing possession and extended the lead, 56-41. This was the final score of the match.
Carothers’ Historic Night
Jamale Carothers, the sophomore from Bowling Green, Kentucky, stole the show this week. Despite Malcolm Perry rushing for 146 yards and a touchdown and passing for another 107 yards, Carothers out performed him and dominated the Houston defense. The 5-foot-9, 203 pound fullback ran for 188 yards and five touchdowns. That’s right, five. He also had a key 47 yard reception towards the end of the game that set up Navy’s final score.
There was a lot of hype surrounding fellow B-back, Nelson Smith, heading into the 2019 season. Although, Smith is a stellar back, Carothers has truly become a scary threat to opposing defenses.
QB Malcolm Perry and FB Jamale Carothers combined for 334 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns to lead Navy to a 56-41 win over Houston Saturday evening at TDECU Stadium.@UnitedHealthGrp pic.twitter.com/VduhSLTkau— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) December 1, 2019
The Navy Midshipmen improve to 9-2 on the year with their only two losses coming to No. 18 Memphis (11-1) and No. 16 Notre Dame (9-2). Both Memphis and Notre Dame won this past weekend and will undoubtedly improve in the College Football Playoff Rankings. With another win under their belt, it looks like Navy will find themselves back in the Top 25 come Tuesday evening.
Navy finish AAC Conference play with a 7-1 conference record and a share of the AAC West Title. Because they won’t be playing in the AAC Championship Game, the Midshipmen will now have two weeks to prepare for their Super Bowl against the Army Black Knights. Army lost to Hawaii on Saturday, 52-31, and are now 5-7 on the season. The Black Knights will be playing for bowl game eligibility and retention of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy on Dec. 14th in the 2019 Army-Navy Game.