By Jacob Rice
Memphis (6-2, 4-2) left Maryland with a win after things looked very uncertain after a close, low-scoring decision against Navy (3-5, 3-3).
Neither team could score points as they usually did, and they found themselves struggling on offense. Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said it was an ugly win, but it was a win.
"I'll take ugly wins for the rest of my career," Silverfield said.
Memphis defeated Navy 10-7 in a slow paced, defensive exhibit. Both defenses took control of the game quickly and neither team had much success on offense for seemingly the whole game.
Memphis' defense held Navy's offense to convert only two of their 13 third downs. Memphis hardly did better against the Navy defense, converting four of their 14 third downs.
"At the end of the day, the defense did what it took," Silverfield said.
Navy attempted five fourth downs and converted three of them. Memphis attempted two and got one of them turned into a first down.
The Tigers' defense got two turnovers in the game, an interception from Quindell Johnson and momentum-changing a fumble recovery from Cole Mashburn at the start of the fourth quarter. These two turnovers gave Memphis just enough to earn their win.
Johnson said it felt good to get his first interception of the season.
"Getting that turnover for the team going into the half was big as well," Johnson said.
Navy also secured a takeaway of their own after wide receiver Tahj Washington lost the ball after a big run down the field.
Memphis had 11 drives in the game, and they scored 10 points. The Midshipmen had 12 offensive drives and only came away with seven points.
Navy scored first with a 22-yard rush from Nelson Smith. This happened after the Midshipmen used a fake punt on fourth down for a big gain.
The Naval Academy led 7-0 after halfway through the first quarter. Memphis later snuck in a touchdown before the first quarter ended. Brady White found Calvin Austin III on a 14-yard slant pass for a touchdown.
It was 7-7 and Memphis had an opportunity to take the lead in the second quarter. Riley Patterson was sent out for a long field goal and missed. The game was tied 7-7 when both teams entered halftime as well.
Neither team scored in the second or third quarter. Memphis sent Patterson back out onto the field for a 26-yard field goal. It was successful and Memphis had their first lead of the game.
The Midshipmen took their chance with a field goal as well. There was less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter and they attempted to tie the game. Their hopes were not fulfilled, and the Tigers got the ball back. Memphis ran off four minutes and thirty seconds and Navy got the ball back with 12 seconds. However, the Midshipmen had no miracles and lost after a failed hail mary pass.
Memphis earned their six win of the season and beat the Midshipmen for the first time in Annapolis. The Tigers have two scheduled conference games left on the schedule. The Tigers are headed to New Orleans next week to face the Tulane Green Wave on Dec. 5. Then, Memphis is scheduled to host Houston on Dec. 12.
Navy has to host ranked Tulsa and play Army for their final game of the year.