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Navy, Perry punish Pirates 42-10

East Carolina Navy Football
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Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry runs in the first half of an NCAA college football game against East Carolina Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Annapolis, M.D. (Paul W. Gillespie/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, September 14, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Add quarterback Malcolm Perry prominently to the list of Navy football players to enjoy spinning, shaking, shedding and sizzling the East Carolina football defense.

In a series that began in 2006 and has been dictated by the Midshipmen and their punishing and methodical offensive style and steady defense, a new coach by the Pirates and a new mindset could not shake history as Perry and the Midshipmen relived it in cruising to a 42-10 victory over the Pirates at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Navy (2-0) improved to 6-1 all-time against the Pirates (1-2), outscoring them 348-186 in those contests.

This one was the first American Athletic Conference game this season for both teams and Pirate coach Mike Houston's debut in the league, but he watched as Navy led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter and took a decisive 21-0 advantage early in the second on Perry's pass to an open CJ Williams for a 29-yard touchdown.

Perry, Navy's senior quarterback who was a part-time slot back and part-time QB in recent seasons, finished with 24 rushes for 156 yards and tied a career-high of four rushing touchdowns. He also was 5-of-7 passing for 151 yards and two TDs for the first game in his career with at least five total touchdowns.

"This is a starting point for us against this style of offense, and hopefully we'll be more prepared the next time we see it," Houston said. "The day I took this job, I was not naive and I knew there would be days like that. I told those kids in (the locker room) that this is where I want to be and I made the decision to be in there with them and I care about them. We are all on the same page and we are going to work together."

ECU lost its 10th straight road game and fell to 5-16 all-time in American road contests.

Navy out-rushed the Pirates 315-84, part of a 468-222 advantage for the home team in total yards.

"Obviously we all know about (the road losing streak), but we have to win next week and then whenever our next away game is we have to win that one," said Pirate sophomore quarterback Holton Ahlers, who will look to bounce back next Saturday versus William & Mary at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium before playing at Old Dominion on Sept. 28. "That is the way we get rid of it."

Ahlers was 11-for-23 passing for 138 yards and an interception. Demetrius Mauney lost a fumble in the fourth quarter for ECU's other turnover.

Navy is now 58-12 all-time under coach Ken Niumatalolo when scoring first in a game.

ECU received the opening kickoff, but went three-and-out and then Jonn Young shanked a punt 22 yards to the Pirate 38-yard line. Six plays and 38 yards later, Navy took its first and only lead on a Perry 18-yard scoring run.

The Pirates had 59 total yards on three offensive possessions during the opening quarter. They were penalized twice for false start during the first drive.

"That was the worst case scenario, outside of a turnover," Houston said. "A quick three-and-out and a short punt and having the first two possessions we had, that is not the way you want to start. But certainly this was a team loss."

Perry's 11th carry went 19 yards and gave him 116 yards for the game with 9:00 minutes remaining in the opening half. That Navy possession ended with a Perry 6-yard touchdown run, making it 28-3 with 5:25 until halftime.

"He's a pretty shifty guy and quick on the outside and you have to give him credit for that," said ECU nose guard Alex Turner, who had one sack as did outside linebacker Gerard Stringer. "We have to have good feet and form tackling and drive through and just get him on the ground. Some of the times we did and sometimes we didn't."

Navy reached the 40-point mark about halfway through the third quarter when Williams streaked free down the middle of the field and hauled in an 80-yard catch and run from Perry for a 42-3 lead. The pass was the longest by Navy since Nov. 20, 2010.

The Midshipmen pulled Perry in favor of freshman Perry Olsen with 4:57 remaining in the third.

"I've been here a long time and that is as complete of a football game as we have played in some time," Niumatalolo said.

ECU finished with six penalties, totaling 55 yards. Navy had five for 54.

East Carolina appeared to cut a 21-0 deficit to a two-touchdown margin when Mauney, a freshman coming off a 100-yard game, cruised into the end zone for a 1-yard TD, but an illegal formation for too many players in the backfield wiped out the score. After an incomplete pass, Jake Verity made a 23-yard field goal for a 21-3 Navy advantage at the 9:09 mark of the second quarter.

The Pirates didn't score again until Ahlers' 2-yard TD run with 12:30 left in the game, which created the 42-10 final score.

Mauney and Hussein Howe handled the running back duties with starter Darrius Pinnix out with an injury. Pinnix rushed for two touchdowns and a career-high 134 yards a week ago in a 48-9 rout of Gardner-Webb, but he was on the sideline and inactive against a Navy team that was coming off a bye week and immediately gets another bye after routing the Pirates.

Ahlers led the Pirates with 36 rushing yards on nine attempts. Next was Howe with 31 yards on six carries, and Mauney carried a team-high 12 times for 23 yards.

"(Pinnix) will be back at some point and we'll see when, but we have other players ready to go," Houston said.

Pirate starting free safety Tank Robinson was carted off the field late in the fourth quarter.

"He had full mobility in all of his extremities, so right now it is precautionary and we are hopeful that there is nothing serious," Houston said.

Eleven different players ran the ball for the Midshipmen. Fullback Nelson Smith carried 14 times for 52 yards.

Williams had a rare breakout day by a Navy receiver, making three catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

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

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