ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Houston quarterback Clayton Tune tied a Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium record with five touchdown passes to lead the Cougars (4-3, 2-1 in the American Athletic Conference) to a 38-20 victory over Navy (2-5, 2-3) in front of 32,443 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Tune tied a record set by Virginia quarterback Bobby Goodman in 1992.

“We ran into a buzzsaw today and got our butts whipped in all phases: coaching and all three phases,” said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. “We’ve been pretty solid on special teams, but today we had some boo boos that hurt us. That is a good football team that actually played like the team that was picked to win our league.”

“This was a big win,” said Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen. “How we won at Memphis gave us momentum going into the bye week and having two weeks to prep for these guys was huge, critical.  I don’t know how you prep for them in six, seven days, I really don’t. It’s hard to beat Navy. It’s hard to beat them by two-plus scores, which we did.”

Tune had touchdown passes of 6, 11, 3, 7 and 4 yards. He was 21 of 30 for 261 yards.

Tune passed for three touchdowns in the first half to build a 21-7 lead — Houston’s first halftime lead of the season. Tune connected with Dell twice in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead and Houston was driving on its third possession before Navy safety Eavan Gibbons forced a Brandon Campbell fumble that was recovered by safety Joe Hutson.

Credit: Navy Athletics

Navy turned the Houston turnover into points as quarterback Tai Lavatai threw a 52-yard pass to Jayden Umbarger on second down and two plays later fullback Daba Fofana scored from 25 yards out to cut the lead to 7 at 14-7 with 5:18 left in the first half.

Houston would answer the Navy touchdown with one of its own as the Cougars drove 75 yards on nine plays, helped by a critical error by the Navy special teams.  

The Navy defense came up with a third down stop at the three-yard line forcing Houston to settle for a field goal, but the Mids lined up over the long snapper on the attempt which is a penalty and an automatic first down. On the next play, Tune hit Matt Byrnes with a  three-yard touchdown to make the score 21-7.

Navy tried to cut the lead to 11 right before the half, but Daniel Davies 41-yard field goal was blocked by Nelson Ceaser to preserve Houston’s 14-point halftime lead.

Navy would pull to within seven points early in the third quarter when Clayton Tune was sacked and stripped of the ball by Jacob Busic and linebacker Jianni Woodson-Brooks scooped and scored, returning the fumble five yards for a touchdown to make the score 21-14.

Houston, however, would put the game away over the next three possessions as the Cougars got a 24-yard field goal by Kyle Ramsey to make the score 24-14, Lavatai was intercepted by Art Green, who returned the ball 28 yards to the Navy 11 and then Tune threw a touchdown pass to Samuel Brown for a 7-yard touchdown pass to make the score 31-14.

Stacy Sneed led the Houston ground attack with 100 yards on 20 carries, while Tune carried the ball nine times for 43 yards.  Dell had 8 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Brown had 5 catches for 33 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Linebacker Donavan Mutin recorded 13 tackles.

Fofana led the Navy rushing attack, which was held to 201 yards on 50 carries, with 89 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.  Maquel Haywood had 5 carries for 51 yards.

Lavatai completed six of his 13 pass attempts for 125 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.  Umbarger caught 2 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Navy will play host to Temple (2-5, 0-3 in the AAC) in a 3:30 PM kick at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, while Houston plays host to USF (1-6, 0-3).  

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