If not for two plays, Navy would be blowing out Memphis in the Liberty Bowl. As it stands, though, the Midshipmen settled for a 20-14 halftime lead.
Navy accepted the ball to start the game and picked up 41 yards on the first play, an end around to Keoni-Kordell Makekau that fooled the Tigers’ defense. Navy quarterback Malcolm Perry fumbled the snap on the next play, but the Midshipmen recovered and eventually scored, a 1-yard Perry keeper on fourth-and-goal.
And then Memphis immediately tied it on a 75-yard burst down the left side by Kenneth Gainwell.
After a pair of punts, Navy went 86 yards in 10 plays, the first nine on the ground until Perry hit Chance Warren for a beautiful 17-yard touchdown strike on a 3rd-and-9. (The PAT failed.) Navy then took a 20-7 lead on another 1-yard Perry run — the drive was keyed by a 47-yard pass from Perry to Ryan Mitchell — but the Middies immediately gave the score back when Gabriel Rogers raced 99 yards for a touchdown on the ensuring kickoff.
Memphis closed its offensive half with a missed 55-yard Riley Patterson field goal, and Navy returned the favor with a missed 46-yard Bijan Nichols field goal.
Navy dominated the ball and the box score in the first half, racking up 43 carries for 217 yards while Perry completed four of his six passes for 75 yards.
Memphis has run just 15 offensive plays, running 10 times for 69 yards — remember, their first carry went for 75 — while Brady White threw for just 29 yards on 4-of-5 passing.