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AAC: Backup QB breaks rushing record

Navy Memphis Football

Navy's Malcolm Perry runs against Memphis during a game in Memphis, Tenn., on Oct. 14. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, November 13, 2017

An American Athletic Conference rushing record fell Saturday, but the performance was not produced by a running back.

Navy’s Malcolm Perry made his first-career start at quarterback and proceeded to run for a single-game AAC-record 282 yards on 33 carries in a 43-40 win against SMU. Perry, who has been used primarily as a slot back this season, scored four rushing touchdowns and his only pass attempt was intercepted.

Midshipmen coach Ken Niumatalolo said Monday during the American Athletic Conference coaches teleconference that it “was amazing” what the 5-foot-9, 185-pound sophomore was able to do in just a few days of practice last week to get game ready.

“When we were struggling on offense it affected our entire team and we were just trying to get a spark,” Niumatalolo said of the decision to start Perry, who played QB during spring practice and then made the switch to a different role. “Malcolm Perry is our best ball-carrier and most dynamic ball-carrier, and the quarterback carries the ball a ton in our (triple-option) offense. We just wanted to put the ball in our best ball-carrier’s hands. He played a phenomenal football game.”

Previous Navy starting QB Zach Abbey was not fully healthy. Perry also got hurt late in the game against SMU and Niumatalolo said his status will be monitored this week.

Next up for Navy, which was on a three-game losing streak prior to edging SMU, is a matchup at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish is coming off a game that received an abundance of national attention, but ND did not fare well in a 41-8 rout by the Miami Hurricanes at Miami on Saturday night.

Niumatalolo was asked about how that outcome might affect Notre Dame’s mindset for this week.

“Notre Dame is Notre Dame and they are always a good football team,” he said. “Just like any team, you have to move on whether you win or you lose.”

Out West

One of the AAC division titles can be clinched this week with a Memphis win versus SMU.

Memphis (8-1, 5-1) is leading the West division ahead of second-place Houston (4-2 league record). The 18th-ranked Tigers have won five straight contests and they are set as an 11.5-point favorite over the Mustangs (6-4, 3-3).

“You have to continue to progress and that’s probably what I’ve been most pleased with our football team is that no matter what kind of adversity we’ve seen or what has showed up along the journey, our guys have really taken a great sense of pride in how we prepare for games and then trying to maximize our opportunity,” UM coach Mike Norvell said. “That does put us in position where this week is a championship game for us. … To be western division champion would be a great day for our program and great for every young man we have within this organization.

“Our guys know that all that sounds good, but we have to go out there and earn it.”

Central Florida and South Florida are on track for a winner-take-all matchup next week to decide the AAC East champion.

Top tackler

The league defensive player of the week award went to Tulane linebacker Rae Juan Marbley, who was instrumental in helping the Green Wave hold on for a 31-24 overtime victory over East Carolina in Greenville.

The senior had 12 total tackles, including three in OT. Two of his stops came within the 3-yard line as part of the visitors’ halt of the ECU offense near the goal line to end the game.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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