The Army-Navy Game might as well have been called The Malcolm Perry game this year. The Navy quarterback dominated Saturday afternoon's affair as he led the No. 23 Midshipmen to a 31-7 win over Army, ending the three-game losing streak to their rival. The win gives Navy its first 10-win season since finishing 11-2 in 2015. That also happens to be the last year Navy picked up a win against Army before Saturday.
It's also Perry's first win against Army. The QB has had a couple outstanding performances against the Cadets but had yet to taste victory. This year, he did it without attempting a single pass, let alone completing one. Perry rushed for 304 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and those 304 rushing yards are the most by any player in the 120-game history of The Army-Navy Game. It also pushed his season total to 1,804 yards, a new single-season rushing record at Navy.
Things started out well for Army as it put together an incredible 18-play, 78-yard touchdown drive that melted 10:41 off the clock in the first quarter ... but that was it. Army managed only 74 yards of offense in the final three quarters. Compare that to Navy, which ran only four plays for eight yards in the first quarter and finished the day with 396 total yards.
Navy will move on to face Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl following the win, while Army's season ends at 5-8. It's the first time Army has missed a bowl game since 2015.
Now let's get to my four biggest takeaways from this game.
1. Malcolm Perry could have played anywhere: If you try to find a recruiting profile for Malcolm Perry on 247Sports, you won't find one. Plenty of his Navy teammates have them, but Perry wasn't on anybody's radar out of high school. The fact he's currently listed at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds in his Navy bio is why. But it's clear when you watch him that, while he is at Navy, he'd be effective almost anywhere. In this game, he just wasn't fair. If he weren't only 5-foot-9, you'd have thought he was a high schooler going against middle school players. And while he might not have been a quarterback at a Power Five school, he'd have found a way to make plays anyway. He's already one of the best players in the American Athletic Conference, and the AAC has plenty of teams that could compete against Power Five competition.
During the game, Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson talked about an NFL team giving him a chance. It's not out of the question. A few years ago, Navy QB Keenan Reynolds was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens. If the NFL is something Perry genuinely wants to consider, I don't doubt for a moment that a team would take a chance on him. He might not be big, and he might play football at a service academy, but make no mistake, Malcolm Perry is a football player.
2. Navy's offense is a two-person game: Yes, the Midshipmen run an option offense, but in reality, there are only two options. The Mids ran 56 plays against Army on Saturday. Malcolm Perry and fullback Jamale Carothers touched the ball on 51 of them. Carothers finished with 75 yards rushing and a touchdown on 22 carries, and also caught the lone touchdown pass in the game. Ironically enough, it wasn't Perry who threw the pass, rather Chance Warren who took a pitch from Perry on a trick play.
That's one of the benefits of having a player like Perry. Even when the other team knows what's coming, the Navy offense is still difficult to stop.
3. Not having Kelvin Hopkins was a serious handicap for Army: The Knights have been dealing with QB injuries all season long, but it was Hopkins who saw the majority of snaps this season. He wasn't available to start this game, and Army was forced to turn to Christian Anderson. Anderson had played in six games for Army this season, rushing for 373 yards and passing for 117, but this was his first start. Having your first start come in a game of this magnitude is a lot to ask of any player, even a junior. It's even more so when he's not much of a passing threat. Anderson was terrific on Army's lone touchdown drive and finished with 56 yards rushing and a touchdown, but Navy knew it didn't have to worry about the pass with him in there. That made slowing Army down a lot easier in the final three quarters.
4. I love this game: Don't get me wrong, I didn't learn that today. I've always known it, but I want to reiterate it. There's so much that's great about college football at the center of this rivalry, and it hooks me every year. Even if neither team is competing for national titles, this game is the biggest game of the year, and they treat it as such. Plus, watching two option teams go at one another for 60 minutes is like looking through a time portal to the past. I hope they play forever, and that they never throw more than 10 passes in a game.