Tulane 42, Navy 10
Tulane sophomore quarterback Lester Ricard threw against Navy as no other quarterback had this season, and the Green Wave picked apart the Midshipmen, 42-10, on Saturday.
Ricard completed 18 of 19 attempts for 323 yards and four touchdowns. The previous high against Navy was 255 yards in Delaware's losing effort last week, but that took 50 passes. Navy was allowing 164 yards passing, 10th-best in the nation.
Ricard surpassed that early in the third quarter en route to a Tulane record for completion percentage. He completed his first four passes, purposely threw one out of bounds, and then was unstoppable.
"We tried everything," Navy Coach Paul Johnson said. "We tried four-man, three-man, blitz; we tried all kinds of stuff on defense."
Navy (7-2) lost for the second time in three games and failed in its attempt to go 8-1 for the first time since the Roger Staubach-led Midshipmen did so in 1963.
"Hopefully, we learned a valuable lesson," said Johnson, whose team allowed a season-high 541 yards. "Historically, we do not handle it well when everybody tells us we're good and we're supposed to win."
Tulane (3-5) took the lead to stay, 14-7, on Ricard's 87-yard touchdown pass to Roydell Williams midway through the second quarter. Williams had six catches for 148 yards and two scores.
Navy had no answers in a game in which senior Aaron Polanco completed just two passes in 12 attempts for 12 yards. He rushed for a team-high 79 yards. Reserve quarterback Lamar Owens entered late and completed two passes for 38 yards on Navy's final possession.
"It was a horrible game for us on both sides of the ball," said Polanco, one for seven in the first half. "We didn't play smart. We can't afford that, not against anybody we play. We have to be ready to play every game with all we have."
Tulane Coach Chris Scelfo said it was his team's best performance of the year.
"Obviously, this is a total team win," Scelfo said. "I was very, very proud of the way the defense performed. Everybody did their jobs. The offense went as Lester went, and he was outstanding."
Tulane opened with an 11-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a one-yard touchdown run by junior Jovon Jackson, who went untouched into the end zone just 2 minutes 49 seconds into the game. Jackson gained 95 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.
Navy responded with an 11-play drive, but it stalled on the Tulane 34 after three consecutive incompletions. On third and 10, Polanco hit sophomore receiver Jason Tomlinson on the goal line, but Tulane's Jeremy Foreman knocked the ball out of his hands. Navy went for it on fourth down, but Polanco's pass was way off target in the back of the end zone.
Two possessions later, Polanco threw his fourth interception of the season and first in five games when he was picked off by Kelvin Johnson.
Nick Beucher's 27-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by Navy's Josh Smith, the first of the senior's career. The ball rocketed back toward midfield, where it was eventually picked up by sophomore safety Jeremy McGown, who ran 32 yards with the football before being tripped up from behind by Tulane's Matt Forte at the 12.
Senior Kyle Eckel, who rushed for 76 yards, scored on the next play to tie the score at 7 with 10:28 left in the half.
Navy appeared to be gaining control with Tulane facing a third and 21 from its 13. But Ricard reared back and found Williams streaking up the left sideline, step for step with Navy safety sophomore Hunter Reddick. But Reddick slowed, turned and tried to jump for the ball. Williams, who never stopped, was all alone for the last 35 yards and 8:28 to halftime Tulane was ahead again, 14-7.
After Geoff Blumenfeld made it 14-10 with a 29-yard field goal, the Midshipmen forced Tulane to punt. But on second down, Eric Roberts fumbled on second down, and Tulane recovered with 3:48 left before halftime. On second down from the 38, Ricard found Chris Bush, who managed to get the ball past the goal line before stepping out of bounds and Tulane led 21-10 with 3:02 left.
"We had our chances in the first half," Johnson said. "We dropped a couple of balls that could have been touchdowns and to their credit they hit some big plays."