APTOPIX Navy East Carolina Football

Navy wide receiver Mark Walker (80) is upended Saturday after trying to hurdle East Carolina defensive back Warren Saba (17).

Navy 27 — East Carolina 23

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Nelson Smith ran for a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns and Navy defeated East Carolina 27-23 on Saturday.

Smith, a senior, bested his career high for the second straight game after gaining 120 yards in a win over Temple last week. Jamale Carothers added 82 yards and another score for the Midshipmen (3-2, 3-0 American).

Rahjai Harris, who rushed for 115 yards the week before, had career highs with 172 yards and an 80-yard TD for the Pirates (1-3, 1-2). ECU freshman Mason Garcia made his first start in place of Holton Ahlers, who, along with a handful of other Pirates, had to sit following COVID-19 contract tracing.

Navy quarterback Dalen Morris, who scored his first career rushing touchdown in the first half, was knocked out of the game on a late hit with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

Tyger Goslin took over for Morris and shortly afterward Smith’s 29-yard score gave Navy a 20-13 lead. The Midshipmen added their second fourth-down touchdown on Carothers’ 3-yard TD on the final play of the third quarter, a drive that began at the 50 after Tobe Okafor dropped Garcia for a 5-yard loss on fourth down. Okafor also blocked a first-half field-goal attempt.

On ECU’s ensuing possession, Harris raced 80 yards for a score and Jake Verity added his third field goal to close the gap to 27-23. But Navy ate up over six minutes and ECU could do nothing with their final 23 seconds.

ECU limited attendance to 7 percent capacity at 50,000-seat Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium and had 3,500 fans in attendance.

Follow me on Twitter @Bill_Haufe. Email me at bhaufe@stardem.com

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