ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Navy’s Malcolm Perry ran for 282 yards with four touchdowns in his first start at quarterback and backup kicker J.R. Osborn hit an 18-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to give Navy a 43-40 victory over SMU on Saturday.
Perry was originally recruited as a quarterback, but converted to slotback in the spring. Starting quarterback Zach Abey was active after suffering a shoulder injury last week against Temple, but Perry got the nod to run the triple-option offense in what proved to be a wise decision for Navy (6-3, 4-3 American Athletic Conference).
Perry had the third most rushing yards in school history before leaving late in the fourth quarter with an apparent leg injury.
SMU quarterback Ben Hicks threw a 29-yard touchdown to Courtland Sutton and then completed another pass to Trey Quinn for a 2-point conversion that tied the game, 40-40, with 3:32 remaining to play.
Garret Lewis entered for the injured Perry and handed the ball to fullback Anthony Gargiulo, who managed 50 yards on two carries to the Mustangs’ 9-yard line that eventually set up the game-winning kick.
Gargiulo finished with a career-high 145 yards on 15 carries and had the game’s first touchdown on a 4-yard run. The Midshipmen snapped a three-game losing streak and became bowl-eligible for the sixth consecutive season.
The Mustangs (6-4, 3-3) struggled against the Navy running attack, allowing 559 yards.
Perry gave Navy a 27-11 lead with a 92-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter, notching the second longest run in school history.
Trailing 34-11 at the half, SMU got back in the game on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Hicks to Sutton and a 3-yard touchdown run by Xavier Jones early in the third quarter. Jones finished with 106 yards on 18 carries.
The Midshipmen travel to South Bend, Indiana, next weekend for their annual matchup against Notre Dame. Navy won last year’s game 28-27 and is 13-76-1 all-time against the Irish.