Cougars hold strong against NAVY on Senior Day

Written by Ryan Musich
HOUSTON, Texas—Today, the Houston Cougars defeated the Navy Midshipmen by a final score of 24-14 to finish their regular season schedule. It was truly a tale of two halves for the Cougars on this Senior Day.

The Cougars welcomed the Navy Midshipmen to TDECU Stadium today and had several struggles on both sides of the ball in the first half. The Midshipmen and their triple-option offense gave the Houston defense fits. On top of that, every time Houston forced a three and out, Navy pinned the Coogs deep inside their own side of the field.

To keep on with the topic of struggles, Houston’s offense had very few positives in the first half. The rushing game had tons of trouble as they were able to only accumulate 27 rushing yards in the half. Houston quarterback D’Eriq King was really the only real bright spot in the first half as he had a rushing touchdown that was the only score by the Cougars in the first half.

The Houston defense had major trouble with the triple option offense in the first half as quarter Navy ran for two touchdowns in the second quarter and had no trouble moving the ball down the field. Navy running backs Malcolm Perry and Anthony Gargiulo scored the two touchdowns and that gave Navy a 14-7 lead heading into halftime.

In the second half, the script completely flipped. Houston’s defense became an unstoppable force against Navy’s offense and the Houston offense moved the ball with ease. King took over the game offensively for Houston, while Houston’s stingy defense was led by defensive tackle Ed Oliver Jr., linebacker D’Juan Hines and cornerback Alex Myres.

King found a connection with Houston wide receiver Steven Dunbar and the two connected for a monstrous 61-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Dunbar finished with 142 yards recieving and a touchdown on the day. Before fellow Houston wide receiver Linell Bonner was injured, he was having a great day as well. Bonner finished with eight catches for 98 yards.

Houston scored 17 unanswered points in the second half and asserted their dominance to make up for their loss last week against Tulane and get the victory. Houston head coach Major Applewhite spoke after the game about winning this game for the seniors.

“We wanted to make sure we won this for our seniors,” said Applewhite. “We’re glad that these seniors could take their pads off after the game as winners.” When asked about how the team prepared for the triple option during practice this week, Applewhite said, “It’s really hard to prepare for a team like that [Navy] during practice. You have to have the right personnel or it’s just not going to work”.

What’s next for Houston? Well, the team waits to see where they will play their bowl game. Unfortunately, there will be no conference championship opportunity for Houston, as the UCF Knights will face-off against the Memphis Tigers for the AAC Championship.

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