PERRY DELIVERS NAVY VICTORY
Mids snap Black Knights’ 3-game win streak in 120th game of rivalry
PHILADELPHIA – It was the Malcolm Perry show in the 120th edition of the Army-Navy football game.
Perry delivered a spectacular performance to punctuate his final appearance in the rivalry, adding to his growing legend while setting a slew of records.
Working primarily out of a shotgun formation, Perry ripped off long run after long run while drawing gasps from the sellout crowd of 68,075 with his blazing speed and jaw-dropping moves.
Perry established a career-high with 304 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns to lift No. 23 Navy to a 31-7 victory over archrival Army on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field. Sophomore fullback Jamale Carothers contributed 74 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns for the Midshipmen, who snapped a three-game losing streak to the Black Knights.
“Just super proud of our team and so happy for our seniors,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “This didn’t happen today. It happened back in January with our senior leadership and commitment to be successful.”
Niumatalolo, who fought back tears during his post-game press conference, became the all-time winningest coach in the 120-year history of the Army-Navy series. The 54-year-old Hawaiian is now 9-4 against the archrival and surpassed Hall of Fame Army head coach Red Blaik (8-8-2) for that title.
“I’ve been coaching in this game a long time and that was a pretty dominant performance by our team,” Niumatalolo said. “I’m happy for our seniors that they could finish off with a win like this and go out the right way.”
Perry’s first touchdown came off an electrifying 55-yard run and he also broke loose for gains of 44 and 32 yards on the way to being named game’s Most Valuable Player by the Philadelphia Sportswriters Association. He added a 15-yard scoring scamper late in the fourth quarter to put an exclamation point on the commanding win.
The 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior set an Army-Navy game rushing record — overtaking former Navy tailback Eddie Meyers, who ran for 278 yards in the 1979 game. Perry also surpassed Meyers to become the all-time leading rusher in Army-Navy game history.
Meyers gained 547 yards in three games from 1979 through 1981, but Perry piled up 606 yards in three games from 2017 to 2019.
Perry also set the Navy single-season record for rushing yards, moving past another legendary tailback in Napoleon McCallum (1981-85), whose total of 1,587 yards had stood since 1983. Perry has 1,804 yards this season and will no doubt add to his record during the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31.
As if that weren’t enough, Perry established a new Navy season record for total offense as he now has 2,831 yards between passing and rushing. That broke the mark of 2,595 set by quarterback Will Worth in 2016.
“Malcolm was unbelievable. That’s Godgiven. Either you have that (ability) or you don’t,” Niumatalolo said. “He’s just an amazing, amazing runner.”
Navy put Perry in the shotgun and pretty much ran double-option with the quarterback and Carothers. Perry either handed off to his fullback or kept the ball himself.
“It got to the point that I didn’t even see plays, I was just like either Malcolm’s carrying it or Jamale’s carrying it. We did some things a little bit different but we wanted to open up the box and not play this game in a phone booth,” Niumatalolo said.
“We wanted to spread things out and let Malcolm’s and Jamale’s talents take over.”
Perry’s heroics helped Navy (10-2) recapture the coveted Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy for the first time since 2015. That 187-pound, three-sided piece of hardware will reside in the rotunda of Bancroft Hall for the 11th time since 2003.
“Beating Army… now we are on our way to the White House and we are going to get a ring on our finger,” said outside linebacker Nizaire Cromartie, who was part of a senior class that savored its first victory over the archrival. “I think the CIC means the world to the guys on this team.”
As a sophomore, Perry started at quarterback and rushed for 250 yards in the snow during a heartbreaking 14-13 loss to Army.
He broke loose for a 68-yard touchdown run, but most will remember how he was tripped up by defensive end John Voit on the way to scoring a second touchdown.
Last season, Perry played slotback and was limited to 52 rushing yards as the Black Knights beat the Mids, 17-10. Needless to say, the Tennessee native was thrilled to finally get a win in the series.
“It means the world. Coming into the season, personally, it was my biggest goal,” Perry said. “This was the biggest game I have ever played in my life. We didn’t win the last three games (against Army), but that makes this win even more sweet.”
Navy’s defense was equally responsible for the lopsided victory, limiting Army (5-8) to 148 yards of total offense. The Black Knights scored off a 78-yard drive early in the first quarter then managed only 70 yards the rest of the way.
Sophomore nose tackle J’arius Warren had a monstrous outing, shedding blockers on the way to a career-high 11 tackles. The Midshipmen recorded eight tackles for a loss with outside linebacker Jake Springer responsible for 2 ½ by himself.
Army coach Jeff Monken pulled somewhat of a surprise by starting freshman Christian Anderson at quarterback. Anderson was impressive in leading the one long scoring drive, but his inexperience showed as the game progressed.
Afterward, Monken revealed that senior Kelvin Hopkins, who started every game this season in which he was healthy, was unable to go due to a hamstring injury suffered in the Hawaii loss on Nov. 30. While most of the questions in Monken’s press conference were about the Army quarterback situation, he thought this game was more about the Navy signal-caller.
“I couldn’t be happier to see Malcolm Perry graduate. He is a terrific player and ran through us today. There wasn’t much we could do about it,” Monken said.
Army struck first with the type of smash-mouth, time-consuming drive that can crush the spirit of a defense. Anderson did most of the damage as the Black Knights marched 78 yards in 18 plays, taking 10 minutes and 41 seconds off the clock.
Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry runs for a touchdown against Army on Saturday in Philadelphia. Perry rushed for 304 yards on 29 carries in a record-setting performance.
Navy’s Jacob Springer celebrates a sack in the second quarter of the 120th Army-Navy football game Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
Navy celebrates quarterback Malcolm Perry’s run for a 55-yard touchdown in the first quarter, one of Perry’s two touchdowns in the Midshipmen’s victory.