Navy runs for 569 yards in 42-32 win over Cincinnati
By TODD KARPOVICH
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Navy quarterback Zach Abey broke a 53-yard run with just under two minutes left in the game against Cincinnati.
The home crowd roared, imploring Abey to score his third rushing touchdown. He fell just short of reaching the end zone and so did the Midshipmen in trying to punctuate their 42-32 victory with a new rushing record.
Abey finished with 128 of the Midshipmen's 569 rushing yards against the Bearcats in an American Athletic Conference game Saturday.
Navy (3-0, 2-0) amassed the second most rushing yards in program history, just three yards shy of the record of 572 set in 2007 against North Texas. It was the first game between the two schools since Oct. 20, 1956, when Navy beat Cincinnati, 13-7, in Annapolis.
"People that don't see us very often is a great advantage for us," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "You can practice against yourselves all summer, but this is what we do for a living. This is what our program has been doing for decades."
Bearcats quarterback Hayden Moore had a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Cogswell on fourth down that pulled them to within 10 points with 6:06 left in the game. Cincinnati (2-2, 0-1) advanced to the Midshipmen's 11-yard line with just over two minutes remaining, but Tyris Wooten stripped the ball while sacking Moore and D.J. Palmore recovered it to seal the win.
Abey ran for a pair of scores in the second half that helped keep Navy in control. He also had a 19-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Carmona in the first quarter.
"We had a pretty good idea of what they were going to come out in," Abey said. "It was just like practice when you're out there. We saw the same looks all week in practice so everyone knew their job and did it well."
Navy sophomore Malcolm Perry had 100 yards on 10 carries and scored the game's first touchdown on a 23-yard run. Fellow slotback and senior Josh Brown also got his first career touchdown in the opening quarter with a 24-yard run, which was also his first carry of the season. Brown's second touchdown on the opening drive of the second half gave Navy a 28-17 lead.
The 569 rushing yards were the most the Bearcats have ever allowed. Navy has scored a rushing touchdown in 65 consecutive games.
"It's disheartening. It burns," Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said about Navy's running game. "I look at myself first. It is not the kids' fault. We have to put them in a better situation."
Moore was effective attacking Navy's secondary and went 28 for 46 for 381 yards with three touchdowns. His favorite target was Devin Gray, who caught six passes for 112 yards with a touchdown.
"We knew coming in we were going to have to make plays and we were going to have to score every chance we got," Moore said. "There were a couple of times we didn't score and you see the result."
TOP RUNNERS OUT
The Midshipmen were playing without versatile starting slotback Darryl Bonner, who injured his ankle in the previous game against Tulane. His backup, Tre Walker, also suffered a leg injury in the second quarter and did not return. Cincinnati's starting running back Mike Boone also was out with an ankle injury.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats went 1-7 in the East division of the AAC last season. They will need to play better defensively to improve this year, especially in a league with so many high-powered attacks. Navy, however, did have two weeks to prepare and was able to wear down Cincinnati in the second half.
Navy: The Midshipmen are traditionally among the best teams nationally with protecting the football. However, they've struggled this season. Through three games, the Midshipmen have committed five turnovers and created only three. Navy's running game has compensated for those mistakes so far.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats host Marshall in another non-conference game Saturday. Cincinnati won the past three meetings from 2004-08.
Navy: The Midshipmen travel to Tulsa for their third consecutive AAC game Saturday. Navy leads the all-time series 3-1, including a 42-40 victory last year in Annapolis.
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Updated September 23, 2017