Annapolis, Md.— Houston quarterback Clayton Tune threw for five touchdowns, with two scores apiece from Nathaniel Dell and Sam Brown to help the Houston Cougars (4-3, 2-1 in the American Athletic Conference) beat Navy (2-5, 2-3) 38-20 in front of an announced crowd of 32, 443 at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Tune tied a record set by Virginia quarterback Bobby Goodman in 1992.
Tune had touchdowns of 6, 11, 3, 7, and 4 yards. He was 21 of 30 for 261 yards. Tune was throwing dimes up and down the field for the Cougars.
“This was a big win,” said Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen. “How we won at Memphis gave us momentum going into the bye week and having two weeks to prep for these guys was huge, critical. I don’t know how you prep for them in six, seven days, I really don’t. It’s hard to beat Navy. It’s hard to beat them by two-plus scores, which we did.”
Tune passed for three touchdowns in the first half to upped the lead to 21-7— Houston’s first halftime lead of the season. Tune connected with Dell twice in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead, and the Cougars was driving on its third possession before Brandon Campbell fumbled it into the end zone that was recovered by safety Joe Hutson.
The Midshipmen turned the Cougars turnover into points as quarterback Tai Lavatai threw a 52-yard dime to Jayden Umbarger on second down and two plays later fullback Daba Fofana scored from 25 yards out to trim the lead by 7 at 14-7 with 5:18 left in the first half.
Everytime Navy was moving the ball, they found a way to coughed it up–Lavatai was picked off two times and Daniel Davies had a field-goal attempt blocked with 46 seconds left before the break and he hooked one wide left early in the third quarter.
Navy would pull to within seven points early in the third quarter when Clayton Tune was sacked and stripped of the ball by Jacob Busic and linebacker Jianni Woodson-Brooks scooped up and scored from five yards out and scored to make the score 21-14.
The Cougars would put the game away over the next three possessions as the Cougars got a 24-yard field goal by Kyle Ramsey to make the score 24-14, Lavatai was intercepted by Art Green, who returned the ball 28 yards to the Midshipmen 11 yard line and then Tune threw a dart to Samuel Brown for a 7-yard touchdown pass to make the score 31-14.
Brown, a West Virginia transfer, made his first touchdown grab for the Houston Cougars.
Dell had eight grabs for 93 yards and Brown had 33 yards for Houston.
Fofana led the Navy rushing attack, which was held to 201 yards on 50 carries, with 89 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Maquel Haywood had 5 carries for 51 yards.
Lavatai completed six of his 13 pass attempts for 125 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 picks. Umbarger caught 2 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.
“We ran into a buzzsaw today and got our butts whipped in all phases: coaching and all three phases,” said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. “We’ve been pretty solid on special teams, but today we had some boo boos that hurt us. That is a good football team that actually played like the team that was picked to win our league.”
Stacy Sneed led the Houston ground attack with 100 yards on 20 carries, while Tune carried the ball nine times for 43 yards.
Navy will play host to Temple (2-5, 0-3 in the AAC) in a 3:30 PM kick at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Houston plays host to USF (1-6, 0-3).