Perry passes for more yards than Ahlers in Navy rout
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, September 14, 2019
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Among the improbable things for a disastrous day by the East Carolina football team Saturday was that Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry passed for more yards than Holton Ahlers.
Perry and a stingy Navy defense led the charge in the Midshipmen's 42-10 rout of the Pirates in the American Athletic Conference opener for both teams.
Navy's senior quarterback finished 5-for-7 passing for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Backup Perry Olsen even completed his lone attempt, a 2-yarder during the second half when the outcome of the contest was very much decided in favor of the hosts.
Ahlers was on the run a lot and he totaled 36 rushing yards on nine carries to lead the Pirates, who fell to 1-6 all-time against Navy, but he was under 50 percent in passing accuracy in finishing 11-for-23 for 138 yards and an interception.
"We just have to keep pushing," said Ahlers, a sophomore left-hander in his first full season as the Pirates' starting QB. "We've hurt ourself more than defenses have stopped us, and that is just the way it is right now. It's a new offense and we have young players and just have to keep learning from it."
Perry's 151 yards on five completions gave him an average of 30.2 yards per completion. That effort through the air by the speedy former running back complemented the usual masterful Navy rushing attack of 64 runs for 315 yards and four touchdowns, all by Perry.
"I think it was great play-calling by the coaches," said Perry, who ran the ball 24 times for 156 yards for an average of 6.5 yards per rush. "We saw what they were doing. ... It feels good — 150 passing — that's what I have worked on all summer. I'm still working on it."
Ahlers scored his third rushing touchdown of the season in defeat, but he will enter ECU's next game against William & Mary in Greenville with one touchdown pass this year and three interceptions.
ECU trailed Navy (2-0) by a 14-0 deficit at the end of the first quarter and it was 28-3 at halftime.
When asked about offensive struggles, first-year Pirate coach Mike Houston stressed that Saturday was a team loss.
"This was one game in a season full of games and it counts the same as all the rest," he said. "Next week now becomes the most important game of our season. I'll just say that this was a team loss today."
Each of Perry's two incompletions could have resulted in a touchdown, but on each occasion he misfired on a pass to an open receiver.
That was about all Perry did wrong during the afternoon, and too often there was not much ECU's defense could do but watch as the elusive QB, running backs and receivers broke free for big plays.
Perry's 80-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter to CJ Williams was the Midshipmen's longest passing play since Nov. 20, 2010. It gave Navy a 42-3 lead at the 6:34 mark of the third quarter.
"Just his command of the offense right now, just really pleased with the way he is playing," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said of his quarterback. "We have to be able to throw the ball like that."
Williams had his second-career game with 100 receiving yards, grabbing three receptions for 117 yards and two TDs to become only the second slot back in Navy history with two 100-yard receiving outputs.
"We took a step back today and we all know Navy runs an interesting offense, we just didn't fundamentally correct it or fit up right like we should have," senior nose guard Alex Turner said. "Every day we have to start new. Tomorrow, we will start new."
Contact Ronnie Woodward at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.