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Houston falls short against No. 24 Navy, finish season 4-8

Senior wide receiver finished the night with 133 yards on eight catches in Houston’s 56-41 loss to No. 24 Navy. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Junior wide receiver Marquez Stevenson finished the night with 133 yards on eight catches in Houston’s 56-41 loss to No. 24 Navy. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

On a Saturday night filled with festivities and fireworks to honor the 2019 senior class at TDECU Stadium, Houston and No. 24 Navy set off pyrotechnics of their own as both offenses were red-hot in the Cougars’ final game of 2019, but the Midshipmen pulled away late in the 56-41 win to end Houston’s season with a sour taste.

Houston’s offense got to drive down the field first, and it took little time to get on the board.

The Cougars needed only three plays to move the ball 75 yards down the field courtesy of sophomore receiver Tre’von Bradley, who was able to break off a bubble screen for a 67-yard sprint to the end zone.

Navy countered Houston’s punch in the mouth with an eight-play drive highlighted by a 54-yard scramble from senior quarterback Malcolm Perry.

The Midshipmen capped off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run by sophomore fullback Jamale Carothers.

On the kickoff following Navy’s touchdown, sophomore linebacker Jacob Daulong fumbled the return off of a squib kick by the Midshipmen.

The Midshipmen quickly capitalized on the turnover by Houston behind a 17-yard rush from Carothers.

Houston did not let the quick hiccup deter it, however, as it answered Navy’s scoring drive with a methodical drive of their own. Sophomore quarterback Clayton Tune highlighted the 10-play drive with a 23-yard scramble. 

The drive ended on a five-yard rush by senior running back Patrick Carr, who played in his second game back since suffering an injury on Oct. 12 against Cincinnati.

Navy squeezed in another touchdown before the end of the quarter after a 60-yard completion by junior Keoni Makekau. Perry rushed into the end zone on the quarterback keeper.

After the first quarter, both teams had combined for 35 points and a whopping  378 yards of total offense.

In the second quarter, Houston tied the game off a five-yard catch by junior wide receiver Marquez Stevenson. 

The Cougars then stopped the Midshipmen and forced a punt, but an interception from Tune set-up Navy’s offense inside the 5-yard line.

Navy scored a touchdown on a pitch to junior CJ Williams, which put the Midshipmen out in front 28-21.

Houston’s offense managed to keep the score moving with a pair of field goals that cut Navy’s lead to one.

The score at halftime was 35-27.

The third quarter began with a 75-yard scurry from Carothers, who torched Houston all night long, that extended the Midshipmen’s lead to eight. The 5-foot-9-inch back finished with 188 yards and five touchdowns.

Houston went on another methodical drive, this time 13 plays that extended nearly six minutes. But the Cougars came up empty after a missed field goal despite getting inside Navy’s 10-yard line off of a 33-yard completion on a huge fourth down.

The Cougars’ defense then got a huge stop, forcing the Midshipmen to turn it over on downs at their own 29-yard line after they tried to punch it in for the first down.

Houston took advantage of the good field positioning with a long 26-yard catch from senior receiver Courtney Lark that would bring the Cougars within one after they opted not to go for the tie with a two-point conversion attempt.

Navy responded to Houston’s touchdown with a seven-play, 75-yard drive, which was done all through the ground game.

A 29-yard rush from Perry set-up another 29-yard rush from Carothers that ended in the end zone.

Tune threw his second interception of the night on the following Houston drive.

Navy turned it over on downs after going for it inside their own 25-yard line, but Houston gave the ball right back after Tune was picked off again trying to force it to Stevenson in the end zone.

The Midshipmen did not waste the takeaway given to them by their defense and scored another touchdown on the drive.

A 36-yard rush from Perry put Navy inside Houston territory, and the drive was capped off by an 18-yard pitch-play touchdown from junior Tyreek King El, which gave the Midshipmen a 15-point lead.

Houston cut the lead back down to eight off another fourth-down conversion. Tune found Stevenson in the back of the end zone on a fourth and nine despite getting sandwiched by two Navy defenders.

The Midshipmen countered the scoring drive with a huge 47-yard passing play to Carothers on third down. He added the exclamation point on the drive with another 19-yard rushing touchdown.

Tune threw his fourth interception on Houston’s final drive, ending any hopes at a comeback.

Tune finished the game 23 of 35 for 393 passing yards, four touchdowns, four interceptions and 61 rushing yards.

Carr led Houston’s running backs with 56 yards and a touchdown.

Stevenson was dominant in what could potentially be his last game in a Houston uniform with 133 yards on eight catches and two touchdowns.

Houston finished the season with a 4-8 record.

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