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Navy's Perry likely moving to quarterback full-time in 2018

Navy's Malcolm Perry had 146 yards on 15 carries in the first half, including a 68-yard touchdown scamper.

MICHAEL S. DARNELL/STARS AND STRIPES

By BILL WAGNER | The Capital, Annapolis, Md. | Published: December 13, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (Tribune News Service) – Malcolm Perry had a two-game audition for the Navy quarterback job. Apparently, that is all the coaching staff needed to see.

Head coach Ken Niumatalolo acknowledged after Saturday’s heartbreaking loss to archrival Army that Perry would likely become the Navy starting quarterback next season.

Perry literally carried the offense on Saturday, rushing for 250 yards and a touchdown as the Midshipmen dropped a 14-13 nailbiter to the Black Knights at Lincoln Financial Field. Niumatalolo was asked during the post-game press conference if the sophomore speedster had earned the starting spot going into 2018.

“Probably. We’ll see,” Niumatalolo said. “I haven’t really thought that far ahead. It’s kind of fresh off this game. We’ll go back and look at everything.”

Perry was sensational in his first career start at quarterback, rushing for 282 yards and four touchdowns to spark a 43-40 victory over SMU. That means the Tennessee native totaled 532 rushing yards and five touchdowns in two games as the team’s signal-caller.

“I’m really excited. I don’t know how much the kid rushed for, but that was on a sloppy field. So you know what he would do on a dry field,” Niumatalolo said. “He’s a talented kid and I’m excited for the future.”

Perry, who started nine games at slotback this season, increased his season rushing total to 1,068 yards and nine touchdowns. Zach Abey, the season-long starter at quarterback, has 1,325 rushing yards. It is just the third time in program history that Navy’s had two 1,000-yard rushers.

Abey did most of his damage between the tackles, routinely running over defenders or breaking tackles. Early speculation is that Abey will switch to fullback so his talents are not wasted. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Pasadena resident runs like a fullback so it should be a relatively easy transition.

Perry joined an elite group of five Navy players who have rushed for 200 yards or more in a single season. Abey is one of them, rumbling for 235 yards at Florida Atlantic and ripping through Air Force for 214 yards. Quarterbacks Chris McCoy (1996, 1997) and Keenan Reynolds (2013, 2014) along with tailback Napoleon McCallum (1983) are the others.

Perry scored four touchdowns on plays of 65 yards or more this season. He had a 92-yard run against SMU, a 91-yard run versus Air Force and a 75-yard reception on Central Florida.

During his appearance in the interview room, Perry was told that Niumatalolo basically announced that he would be the starting quarterback moving forward. That was news to the 5-foot-9, 185-pounder, who certainly was not backing away from the challenge.

“I don’t know what’s in coach’s head for the future. If that’s what they ask of me, I’ll get ready to do that,” Perry said. “If the coaches make that call, I feel like all the guys are behind me. I feel like I’m able to take that position and get this team going in the right direction.”

©2017 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)
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