Perry with 3 touchdowns, leads Navy past Lehigh 51-21
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry spent much of Saturday afternoon dodging and spinning around defenders in his team’s triple-option offense.
Perry also showed that he can make big-plays downfield with his arm.
The result was a dominant performance as Perry ran for 223 yards with three touchdowns and Navy renewed its rivalry with Lehigh by rolling to a 51-21 victory.
“I think we came out ready to play,” Perry said. “For me, I was passing the ball around a little bit. I’m getting more comfortable doing that in the game. I thought I could have done better, but it was a good experience to get under my belt.”
Perry set the tone with touchdown runs from 5 and 24 yards in the opening quarter. He had another deft 30-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
The junior also threw a 49-yard pass to slotback CJ Williams that set up a 1-yard run by Zach Abey, who has six touchdowns. Williams had three receptions for 104 yards.
It was the first time since 2010 that Navy had a 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in the same game.
Sophomore Myles Fells had a 52-yard score on his first career carry that provided a 28-7 lead with 10:39 left in the half.
The Midshipmen (2-1) amassed 629 total yards of total offense against the overwhelmed Mountain Hawks. Nonetheless, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo sees plenty of room for improvement.
“To score 51 points and hold them like we did, rush for that many yards, that’s always good,” Niumatalolo said. “But I just felt like we didn’t play clean, a lot of mistakes in all three phases. I mean we got a penalty on a delay of game, a punt. That should never happen.”
Lehigh (1-2) played without tailback Dominick Bragalone, who is the school’s all-time leading rusher with 3,722 career yards. He suffered a head injury last week against Villanova.
Freshman tailback Rashawn Allen replaced Bragalone and ran for 147 yards on 16 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown run on Lehigh’s first play from scrimmage and another 26-yard score in the fourth quarter.
“I had been mentally preparing myself for the play because we knew it was going to be the first play that we were going to run,” Allen said about the 75-yard scamper. “t was a team effort on that play.”
Lehigh quarterback Brad Mayes was 19 of 31 for 158 yards with three interceptions.
“We knew coming into this game, it was going to be super-challenging for us,” coach Andy Coen said. “Our kids were super excited about having this opportunity. But we were so poor with our concentration. A lot of turnovers. We can’t beat a high school team the way we turned the ball over with fumbles and interceptions and those types of things.”
Navy starting safety and defensive captain Sean Williams was out with a head injury suffered last week against Memphis. Navy safety Jacob Springer started in his place and had a first-quarter interception that set up a touchdown.
Lehigh, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, and Navy first met in 1889. The teams had not played since 1987. The Midshipmen lead the all-time series 15-6-1.
“Any win is a good win, but there is a lot we have to work on,” Navy center Ford Higgins said.
Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks are the two-time defending Patriot League champions and should be battled tested for conference play. The emergence of Allen and the return Bragalone could give Lehigh one of the most dominant running attacks in the FCS.
Navy: The Midshipmen have allowed seven touchdowns of 30 yards or more in three games, but they forced five turnovers against Lehigh. Navy is also difficult to stop once its triple-option gets rolling.
Niumatalolo improved to 10-0 against FCS foes. Last season was the first time since 2006 the Midshipmen did not play an FCS opponent.
Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks play Pennsylvania in the second of three consecutive non-conference road games Sept. 22.
Navy: The Midshipmen resume their American Athletic Conference schedule at SMU on Sept. 22.