ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Bijan Nichols kicked a 48-yard field goal as time expired, and Navy edged Tulane 41-38 on Saturday.
Nichols’ kick — a yard shy of a career long — capped a seven-play drive in the final 61 seconds to secure bowl eligibility for the Midshipmen (6-1, 4-1 American) for the 15th time in 17 years.
Sophomore fullback Jamale Carothers rushed for a career-high 154 yards and accounted for four touchdowns and quarterback Malcolm Perry rushed for 142 yards and threw for a touchdown for the Midshipmen.
Diego Fagot returned an interception for a touchdown late in the first half for Navy, which scored on its first four possessions and never trailed the Green Wave (5-3, 2-2) but squandered a 24-0 lead.
Tulane quarterback Justin McMillan threw for 290 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another two scores in the loss.
Carothers capped Navy’s first two possessions with touchdown runs of 52 and 35 yards, running nearly untouched into the end zone on both occasions. He then collected a 31-yard touchdown catch from Perry to cap the Mids’ third series.
Navy would push the lead to 24-0, but Tulane stitched together a pair of second-quarter touchdown drives to climb back in it. The Green Wave was starting a push for another score just before halftime, but Fagot collected a carom off running back Tyjae Spears and returned it 17 yards for a score to make it 31-14 at the break.
Tulane drew closer on McMillan’s short touchdown passes to Jaetavian Toles and Ygenio Booker in the third quarter. The Green Wave finally tied it on Merek Glover’s 39-yard field goal with 10:17 to play.
Carothers scored his fourth touchdown of the day on a 15-yard rumble with 5:23 to go, but Tulane responded with McMillan’s sneak with 1:01 remaining to tie it at 38.
IT’S BEEN AWHILE
Fagot’s interception return for a touchdown was Navy’s first in 36 games. The last Mid to return an interception for a score was Justin Norton against Southern Methodist on Nov. 26, 2016.
After a slow start, Tulane finished with 187 rushing yards. It was the 48th consecutive game the Green Wave surpassed the 100-yard plateau, a streak that dates to 2015.
Tulane: After a promising 5-1 start, the Green Wave has dropped consecutive road games to AAC West contenders. Tulane will need help to climb back into contention in the division, but a second bowl berth in a row remains well within reach.
Navy: A year after enduring a 3-10 season, the program’s worst since 2002, the Midshipmen are back to playing meaningful conference games in November like they did in 2015 and 2016, their first two years in the AAC.
Tulane: Returns home to face Tulsa next Saturday. The Green Wave is 4-11 all-time against the Golden Hurricane but has won the last two meetings.
Navy: At Connecticut on Friday. The struggling Huskies have lost 15 consecutive American Athletic Conference games but handled Massachusetts 56-35 in a nonconference game Saturday.