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WOODWARD: Oversized Navy numbers engulf ECU again

East Carolina Navy Football-2
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Navy's Malcolm Perry lunges for the end zone on a quarterback keeper in the first half against East Carolina in Annapolis, Md., on Saturday. (Paul W. Gillespie/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Monday, September 16, 2019

ANNAPOLIS, Md.

As Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry broke free for an 18-yard touchdown run less than four minutes into Saturday’s football game against East Carolina, sportswriters and ECU and Navy staffers in the press box naturally turned to Page 3 of Navy’s game notes to digest various statistics on how successful the Midshipmen are when they lead early in a game.

Navy was 57-12 all-time under 12th-year coach Ken Niumatalolo when scoring first. The Midshipmen were 47-11 when scoring a touchdown on their first offensive possession. They were 24-4 in their last 28 home games.

It was a dismal start by ECU — going three-and-out, punting the ball away and giving the Midshipmen a field-position advantage and immediate 7-0 lead — but trailing by a touchdown at that time meant the Pirates were far from being uncompetitive.

As the first quarter progressed, however, and ECU’s offense continued to flounder and Navy established its traditional dangerous combination of reliable triple-option runs to set up long pass attempts, a blowout was in the works and Navy went on to win 42-10.

During the process, the tone of the afternoon changed from how important the first quarter is against Navy to a big-picture view on how dominant the Midshipmen (2-0) have been over the Pirates (1-2) in their series that began in 2006.

First-year ECU coach Mike Houston said after the game, which featured the hosts leading 21-0 early in the second quarter and 42-3 about halfway through the third, that it was the starting point for him and his staff at ECU in defending Navy’s unique offense. That is the correct approach to take and to look forward, but it also doesn’t erase the history between the Midshipmen and the Pirates.

Navy is now 6-1 against East Carolina, outscoring ECU by a total score of 348-186.

The Pirates’ only victory was in 2011 in Annapolis, and it required quarterback Dominique Davis completing 40-of-45 passes for a 38-35 win.

The rest of the series has been about Navy and its video game-like stats, some of which still look fake at first glance.

There was a 76-35 rout in Greenville in front of 50,191 fans in 2010. The visitors scored 10 touchdowns and rushed for 521 yards.

It was 56-28 Navy in 2012 and 66-31 in 2016 in the previous outing.

With 348 total points in seven games, Navy has an average scoring output of 49.7 versus ECU.

This year, it was Perry who fueled the rout with 156 rushing yards, 151 passing and six total touchdowns. The senior enjoyed all of the fourth quarter and part of the third from the sideline, having already tied his career high of four rushing touchdowns for a player who has three career 200-yard rushing games.

Most remarkable was that Perry completed five passes (5-of-7) to finish with more passing yards than ECU sophomore QB Holton Ahlers, 151 to 138, including Perry connecting with wide-open CJ Williams on an 80-yard touchdown for Navy’s longest passing play since 2010.

The Midshipmen produced 315 yards on 64 runs to batter ECU.

A unique thing about sports is that game statistics last forever. What happened Saturday was another example of eye-popping numbers by Navy against ECU telling the story.

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

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