No. 24 Navy Holds Off Memphis For 42-28 Win
Oct. 22, 2016
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Will Worth and No. 24 Navy played keep-away with Memphis while running the Tigers into the ground.
Will Worth rushed for a career-high 201 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 24 Navy ran over Memphis 42-28 on Saturday for its 14th consecutive home victory.
In addition to operating the triple option in near-flawless fashion, Worth completed three of four passes for 85 yards and two scores.
''We take what we can get, and today, the quarterback run game was there,'' Worth said. ''We could manage that and set up a couple of pass plays to be able to score through the air. It's just executing the game plan.''
The last Navy player to rush for 200 yards was Keenan Reynolds in 2014.
Worth carried 31 times and orchestrated an attack that held the ball for nearly 40 minutes. That left high-scoring Memphis little time to counter-punch.
''It was kind of hard because we weren't doing a great job of getting off the field defensively,'' Tigers coach Mike Norvell said. ''Offensively, it's hard to be in rhythm, it's hard to stay in rhythm.''
The Midshipmen (5-1, 4-0 American Athletic Conference) gained a season-high 447 yards on the ground, averaging 6 yards per carry.
The victory put Navy in sole possession of first place in the AAC West and served as a suitable encore for its 46-40 upset of defending league champion Houston two weeks ago.
Navy's 14-game home winning streak is its longest at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium since the facility opened in 1959.
Tony Pollard returned a kickoff 100 yards and Riley Ferguson completed 25 of 40 passes for 333 yards and two touchdowns for Memphis (5-2, 2-1). But the Tigers simply couldn't score enough to offset the damage inflicted by Navy's sensational running attack.
''They kind of got after us up front and we had a couple of assignment issues,'' coach Mike Norvell said. ''But I just thought they did a great job executing.''
Worth's second touchdown run put Navy ahead 28-14 early in the third quarter. Memphis responded with a 9-yard TD pass from Furguson to Daniel Hurd.
As the clock wound down in the third quarter, Navy faced a fourth-and-4 at the Memphis 18. Norvell called a timeout, hoping to make the Midshipmen try to kick a field goal into a stiff wind. Instead, Navy sent its offense on the field and went up 35-21 on a touchdown pass from Worth to Tyler Carmona.
After Memphis again got within a touchdown, a 52-yard completion by Worth led to a 32-yard field goal try by Bennett Moehring. The kick clanged off the left upright with 5:40 to go.
But a fumble by Tigers wide receiver Roderick Proctor was recovered by Navy with 3:39 remaining, and Worth clinched it with a 1-yard plunge.
Worth, a 6-foot-1 senior, started the season as a second-string quarterback but was elevated to starting status after Tago Smith injured his right knee in the opener.
''Here's a kid who was a backup, kept his mouth quiet,'' Niumatalolo said. ''Now he's doing great things.''
Memphis forced 18 turnovers in its first six games, but the only one it got Saturday was when Worth hit the pylon trying to score a touchdown and lost control of the ball. The result was a touchback for the Tigers, whose lone turnover - Proctor's fumble - was far most costly.
Memphis: The Tigers came in as a slight favorite because their offense hadn't scored fewer than 24 points in any game. But the defense wasn't up for the challenge of Navy's running attack, and now Memphis needs help to get to the AAC title game.
Navy: The Midshipmen have proven they don't need Keenan Reynolds at quarterback to make the triple option sing. Navy's running game is tricky, shifty and just about unstoppable for teams not accustomed to chasing the quarterback, fullback and slotback all over the field.
Memphis: The Tigers host Tulsa under the lights next Saturday at the Liberty Bowl.
Navy: The Midshipmen face AAC East Division co-leader South Florida (6-2, 3-1) on the road Friday night.