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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Football

UH-Navy: Highs, lows of the Cougars’ first 2020 road game


UH quarterback Clayton Tune is lifted in the air by a teammate during the game against BYU at TDECU Stadium | Courtesy of UH athletics

UH quarterback Clayton Tune is lifted in the air by a teammate during the game against BYU at TDECU Stadium | Courtesy of UH athletics

The UH football team was able to shake off its first loss of the season a week ago as it went into Annapolis, Maryland, and secured a grinded out win against Navy on Saturday afternoon.

Houston (2-1, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) was able to overcome another stagnant first quarter against Navy (3-3, 3-1 AAC) to remain undefeated in conference play.

Here is what was good and what was bad in the Cougars’ 37-21 victory over the Midshipmen:

Highs

Clayton Tune

The 6-foot-3-inch Carrollton native has been on the highs section of this list all season long, and Saturday’s game against the Midshipmen was no exception.

It was not smooth sailing for Tune, however, as he battled through a lot of physical pain in this contest. He was tackled in the first quarter by a Navy defender, forcing him out of the game for a couple plays after landing on his elbow-shoulder area.

In the third quarter, Tune once again had to exit the game for a few snaps after getting hit hard in the helmet by Navy sophomore linebacker Tama Tuitele, who was ejected for targeting.

As for his production on the field, Tune finished 316 yards and threw for three touchdowns. He also rushed for 35 yards.

Tune has thrown for over 300 yards in all three games to start this season. His total passing touchdowns in this contest are the most he has thrown in a single matchup in 2020.

Kyle Porter

The Katy native had a strong performance against the Midshipmen on Saturday afternoon, scoring two total touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving.

Porter finished the game with 131 yards of scrimmage.

Marquez Stevenson

After being held to only one catch for 19 yards against BYU, the 6-foot wideout exploded on the Midshipmen with 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Stevenson’s score came off a 51-yard connection from Tune as the wideout was able to outrun the Navy defender near the sideline and take it into the end zone.

The speedy receiver gave the Midshipmen problems all afternoon long as they struggled to contain him, which was showcased on his second touchdown that came off a wide receiver screen that Stevenson turned into a 24-yard score.

Dalton Witherspoon

The 5-foot-9-inch senior kicker was on the money for Houston in Saturday’s game. He converted on three first-half field goals, which included a new career-long 53-yarder in the second quarter.

He accounted for 10 of Houston’s 16 first-half points, which kept the Cougars within striking distance as it figured out Navy’s defense.

Rushing defense

Houston’s defense against the run showed once again why it is among the best in the nation. The unit entered fourth in the country in fewest rushing yards allowed to opponents. It held Navy to only 166 yards. The Midshipmen were averaging 190 per contest heading into the contest.

It took the Midshipmen until there was 4:15 left in the fourth quarter to eclipse the 100-yard mark, which is Navy’s bread and butter under the triple-option offense.

Lows

First-quarter blues

While Houston did not fall into another double-digit hole after the first 15 minutes of play against Navy, the Cougars did struggle to get its offense going.

Houston ran 18 plays in the period that resulted in only 62 total yards of offense and three points. After one, Navy led 7-3 as UH has yet to lead after the opening quarter in 2020.

Defending against first-half chunk plays

Houston’s defense was able to hold Navy to only 372 total yards, but all of the Midshipmen’s scores came off big plays from play-action passes.

In the first quarter, the Cougars allowed the Midshipmen to convert a 41-yard pass to junior wide receiver Mychal Cooper, who was wide open down the middle of the field after a fake run by Navy. On the following play, Navy was able to punch it in on a six-yard rushing by senior quarterback Dalen Morris.

In the second quarter, Navy caught Houston napping again as Morris hit a wide-open receiver in senior Ryan Mitchell, who ran it to the house for a 60-yard score.

However, Houston was able to clean up its secondary struggles and restricted the Navy’s offense after the first half. The unit allowed the Midshipmen to score only eight points in the second half, which came in the final drive of the contest.

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