HOUSTON (AP) — Jamale Carothers finished one rushing touchdown shy of tying the American Conference record.
He didn’t care. Following the high-scoring affair against Houston, Carothers and Navy were just happy to walk out with the victory.
Carothers rushed for career highs of 188 yards and five touchdowns, Malcolm Perry ran for 146 yards and a touchdown and No. 24 Navy beat Houston 56-41 on Saturday night.
Carothers scored on runs of 8, 17, 19, 29 and 75 yards, and CJ Williams and Tyreek King-El also rushed for touchdowns for Navy (9-2, 7-1 American).
“When you’re going with the fullback, obviously Jamale did a fabulous job,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “The O-line did a great job of blocking, and he did a great job of running. ... He’s so versatile what he can do.”
The Midshipmen ran for 447 yards and Navy outgained Houston (4-8, 2-6) 554-527.
“Any given night, whatever the defense gives us, we will take,” Perry said. “Whatever they don’t give us, we will work our hardest to get it. We have weapons all over the field, and we are not one-dimensional. We can move the ball.”
Perry, who also threw for 107 yards, set a school record with his ninth 100-yard rushing game this season and tied a school record with his eighth consecutive 100-yard rushing game.
“It was a little more high-scoring than what we’re used to,” Perry said. “The offense went out there, executed, found a way to outscore them. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.”
Houston’s Clayton Tune threw for 393 yards, a career-high four touchdowns and four interceptions and rushed for 61 yards.
Marquez Stevenson had eight catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns, and Tre’von Bradley caught three passes for 99 yards and a touchdown for Houston.
Courtney Lark had a 26-yard touchdown reception, and Patrick Carr had a 5-yard touchdown rushing touchdown for Houston.
Houston finished 4-8, the worst record for the Cougars since finishing 3-8 in 2004. Coach Dana Holgorsen finished with his second career losing record after going 4-8 in 2013 at West Virginia.
“Any time you have a losing season, you’re ready to turn the page,” Holgorsen said. “We knew that this was coming to an end for about three weeks. A lot of teams would have thrown the towel in, and our guys didn’t. That’s program building character. There will be a lot of things we can come back on. Our team knows where we are at and where we are going.”
After Houston closed to 35-34 with 5:48 left in the third, Carothers upped the lead to eight with a 29-yard rushing touchdown with 2 minutes remaining and, after Kevin Brennan intercepted Tune’s pass in the end zone, King-El capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive with a 21-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes left to increase the lead to 49-34.
Navy: The Midshipmen went 5 for 10 on third downs and were 1 for 3 on fourth downs and were stopped twice inside their own 30. Navy forced five turnovers and converted it into 21 points. Navy’s four interceptions were the most since recording four against Wake Forest on Sept. 27, 2008.
“When you have some moron coach, who is going for it on the 18-yard line or whatever it was twice, I thought we could get it,” Niumatalolo said. “To the defense’s credit, they came up with some big turnovers against a very potent offense. They made some key interceptions.”
Houston: The Cougars played well again, but the five turnovers were costly. Houston went 4 for 10 on third downs and 3 for 3 on fourth downs. The Cougars went 0-6 against ranked teams this season.
“We didn’t give up on the season,” Holgorsen said. “We didn’t quit coaching. We didn’t quit practicing. We didn’t quit preparing. We didn’t quit playing. Ever. Not in 12 games.”
Navy should move up in the poll following the win.
Navy plays Army in Philadelphia on Dec. 14.
Houston’s season is over.