Navy beats SMU 24-17 to keep bowl hopes alive
Navy quarterback Kriss Proctor rushed for 107 yards and John Howell scored the go-ahead touchdown as the Midshipmen - who didn't complete a pass all game - stayed in bowl contention by beating SMU 24-17 on Saturday.
Navy (4-6), which is guaranteed a spot in the Military Bowl if it can beat San Jose State and Army, rushed for 335 yards in what served as a preview of sorts if the two teams wind up in the Big East.
Zach Line rushed for 135 yards, his eighth 100-yard effort this season, and Cole Beasley scored two touchdowns as SMU (6-4) lost its third in four games.
Beasley's 2-yard run with 3:40 left pulled SMU to 24-17, but the Midshipmen ran out the clock with the help of an 8-yard run on third-and-6 from Gee Gee Greene, who was sent airborne on the play. Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo was jumping up and down on the sideline after Greene's run.
Navy has won five straight against SMU and eight of nine overall.
The teams are connected by late coach Frank Gansz and have a trophy in his honor. After playing center and linebacker for Navy from 1957-59, Gansz coached for 38 seasons - 24 in the NFL and 14 in college, including for Navy and SMU.
Navy's Alex Teich rushed for 90 yards and Greene added 67 yards on the ground.
SMU scored on its opening drive of the second half to tie the game at 10 on J.J. McDermott's 7-yard touchdown pass to Beasley.
Navy responded on its next drive to take the lead for good. Howell finished off a 78-yard march with a 1-yard run, giving the Midshipmen a 17-10 advantage with 5:17 remaining in the third.
SMU had a chance to tie things late in the third when Chris Banjo recovered Matt Aiken's muffed punt at the Navy 25. The Mustangs couldn't take advantage of the miscue and didn't gain a first down on the ensuing possession as McDermott's fourth-down pass was knocked away.
After the failed fourth-down attempt, Mike Stukel's 5-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter gave Navy a 24-10 lead.
Navy's bid for a ninth straight bowl appearance took a hit when it lost six in a row before beating Troy last weekend. The Midshipmen need six victories to play in the Military Bowl.
Navy scored on its opening drive on Jon Teague's 39-yard field goal.
Chris Ferguson intercepted McDermott to set up Navy's first touchdown of the game. Greene capped a 56-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run to give Navy a 10-0 advantage.
SMU drove deep into Navy territory on their final two drives of the first half without scoring a touchdown.
David Sperry intercepted McDermott in the end zone with five minutes remaining in the second quarter.
After driving to the Navy 11, SMU's drive stalled and Chase Hover kicked a 28-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura attended the game and participated in the pregame coin toss with captains from both teams.