ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Tanner Mordecai threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 24 SMU rallied from a 14-point second-quarter deficit to beat Navy 31-24 on Saturday.
Bryan Massey scored on a 95-yard kickoff return to begin the comeback for the unbeaten Mustangs. SMU (6-0, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) had the game tied by halftime and went up 31-24 on a 22-yard TD pass from Mordecai to Jordan Kerley with 8:19 remaining in the final quarter.
Mordecai now has 26 touchdown passes on the season. He also threw a 66-yarder to Reggie Roberson on fourth-and-1 to open the scoring, but Navy (1-4, 1-2) answered with the next 21 points.
Chance Warren tied the game with a 23-yard scoring run, then Tai Lavatai threw the first touchdown pass of the season for the Midshipmen, 37 yards to Kai Puailoa-Rojas on a flea-flicker.
Then a couple big turnovers went Navy’s way. Mordecai was intercepted in the end zone, and later in the second quarter, he fumbled — and Diego Fagot returned that turnover 20 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
Navy never had a chance to get comfortable, though. Massey took the ensuing kickoff all the way back for a touchdown, and then Tre Siggers scored on a 2-yard run to tie it with 1:54 left in the half.
“Bryan Massey’s kickoff return was obviously a big one,” SMU coach Sonny Dykes said. “I thought that gave us a little bit of momentum back.”
After Kerley’s catch in the end zone put the Mustangs ahead, Navy turned the ball over on downs twice, the second time inside its own 20.
SMU: The Mustangs struggled on third down, going 2 of 11, but they did enough to win. After giving up the long touchdown pass, the SMU defense kept Navy’s offense pretty much under control. The Midshipmen ran for 177 yards but needed 53 carries to do it.
“They hit us on the flea-flicker. Obviously that was a big play, got some momentum, and then the scoop for a touchdown,” Dykes said. “Other than that, they put one drive together and then kicked a field goal, so defensively, I thought we played incredible.”
Navy: The Midshipmen have made strides since losing their first two games of the season by a combined score of 72-10. Navy’s defense mostly hung tough against a dangerous offensive team, but after going up 21-7, the Midshipmen couldn’t move the ball consistently.
It wasn’t easy, but SMU came away with the win on the road, and now the Mustangs have a chance to keep moving up in the poll.
SMU: The Mustangs are off next weekend before an Oct. 21 home game against Tulane.
Navy: The Midshipmen have a short week. They play at Memphis on Thursday night.