The Houston Cougars used a total of 555 yards of offense and 27 first downs to down the Navy Midshipmen by the score of 52-31 in front of 40,562 fans at TDECU Stadium in Friday, November 27, 2015. With the wins, the Cougars move to 11-1 on the season and won the American Athletic Conference West Division title; setting up a conference championship game on Saturday, December 5, 2015 against East Division champion. They will play either No. 25/24 Temple or USF at TDECU Stadium in Houston. Quarterback Greg Ward, Jr. was 25-of-36 in the air for 308 yards and three touchdowns. He carried the ball 14 times for 83 yards and one touchdown. For the fourth time this season, the Cougars scored 50-plus points in a game.
Houston head coach Tom Herman discussed his game plan against Navy with the media in the post-game press conference.
“We have a plan that we have been working on 6-to-8 weeks that we didn’t deviate from. A lesser defensive staff might panic a little bit with some of the passing yards, because we are exposing ourselves a little bit. We felt like if we could stop the run and force them to pass, that we could live with them throwing the ball and get some pressure on the quarterback. We stuck with the plan, and towards the end we had to make a couple different calls. For three and a half quarters our guys knew exactly where to be for each run, because we pretty much had the same call.”
To kick off the game on the first drive, Ward Jr., covered 82 yards in 13 plays, cumulating with a five-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Steven Dunbar. Ty Cummings added the obligatory extra point to give the Cougars an early 7-0 lead. Navy responded on their first possession of the game with a 76-yard drive in six plays for their first touchdown of the game. Quarterback Keenan Reynolds handed the ball to fullback Chris Swain for the four-yard score. Austin Grebe added the kicking extra point to tie the score at seven at the 6:40 mark in the first quarter.
After the Navy score, the Midshipmen kicked off to Houston with the Cougars beginning their second drive of the game on their own 25-yard line. In true Ward Jr. fashion, he drove 75-yards down the field and handed the ball to Brandon Wilson, who carried the ball the 17 yards of the drive for the Cougars’ second touchdown of the game. Cummings again split the uprights for the kicking conversion to give Houston a 14-7 lead with 1:21 left in the first quarter. The touchdown was Wilson’s fourth of the season.
Ward, Jr. was questioned by the press after the game concerning the team’s preparation for facing the Midshipmen.
“We are all going for one goal. We told each other that we are going to give each other all that we have, and that we are going to play for our brothers. The ones standing by us and right next to us. All week we played the game like it was fourth-and-inches. We went hard in practice, so today wasn’t a surprise for us.”
Navy quickly responded in the second quarter when Reynolds found wide receiver Jamir Tillman open in the flat and tossed him a 26-yard pass for the Midshipmen’s second touchdown of the game. Grebe was good on his second extra point of the game to again tie the score. The drive was 76 yards and lasted six plays. Houston again took the lead late in the second quarter with 4:59 remaining in the first half on a five-yard scamper by ward Jr. for the touchdown. Cummings again added the kicking extra point to give the Cougars a 21-14 lead. The rushing touchdown was Ward, Jr.’s seventeenth of the season. Houston closed out the first half with a 45-yard field goal by Cummings to take a 24-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.
After receiving the kickoff for the second half, Navy began their drive on their own 28-yard line. On the second play from scrimmage, Reynolds was attempting a pass on the right side of the field, which was picked off by Trevon Stewart. The interception set up a six play, 46-yard drive that resulted in a Ward, Jr. four-yard pass to Linell Bonner for the first touchdown of the second half. With Cummings extra point, the Cougars held a 31-14 lead at the 11:37 mark in the third quarter. Navy came back and cut the Houston lead to 14 points on a 39-yard field goal by Grebe. The Cougars closed out the third quarter with a 62-yard pass from Ward, Jr. to Demarcus Ayers. The touchdown and Cummings’ extra point capped a 74-yard, five play drive that lasted 3:05. In the fourth quarter, both Houston and Navy scored two touchdowns and two extra points each to close out the scoring for both teams.