COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

Abey helps Navy sink Virginia in Military Bowl

Sports Xchange

December 28, 2017 at 3:08 pm.

Dec 28, 2017; Annapolis, MD, USA;Navy Midshipmen quarterback Zach Abey (9) runs as Virginia Cavaliers linebacker Chris Peace (13) defends during the third quarter  in the 2017 Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 28, 2017; Annapolis, MD, USA;Navy Midshipmen quarterback Zach Abey (9) runs as Virginia Cavaliers linebacker Chris Peace (13) defends during the third quarter in the 2017 Military Bowl at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Backup quarterback Zach Abey scored five touchdowns to lead Navy past Virginia 49-7 in the Military Bowl on Thursday.

Malcolm Perry started the game at quarterback and ran for 114 yards with two touchdowns before leaving with a foot injury in the third quarter.

Abey took over and finished with 88 yards on 13 carries. His five rushing touchdowns are the most in the Military Bowl history and third most in school history.

Navy (7-6) entered the game with the nation’s No. 2 running attack, averaging 343 yards per game. The Midshipmen maintained that dominance and finished with 452 yards in the ground, also setting a record for the bowl.

The game was played at a sold-out Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the home of the Midshipmen.

The Cavaliers (6-7), who were playing in their first bowl game since 2011, simply could not keep pace with Navy’s high-powered attack and were hampered by several key mistakes.

Virginia’s Daniel Hamm fumbled on a punt on his own 11 early in the third quarter. Navy made the Cavaliers pay three plays later on a 5-yard run by Abey that extended Navy’s lead to 35-7.

Abey scored twice more on a 20-yard run and 1-yard sneak that gave Navy a 49-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. Fullback Chris High has 101 yards on 19 carries for Navy.

Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert, who threw for a school-record 3,062 yards with 25 touchdowns this season, was 16 of 36 for 145 yards with an interception.

The Cavaliers’ Joe Reed provided an early spark with a 98-yard touchdown run on the opening kickoff — the fifth longest in school history.

Navy responded on the ensuing drive. Abey took over at quarterback for Perry on the final play of the 69-yard drive and ran for a 1-yard score.

Perry gave the Midshipmen a 14-7 lead on their next possession with a 22-yard touchdown run. Navy ran for 143 yards in the opening quarter.

Virginia did a much better job containing the triple-option until Perry had a 33-yard run scamper on a with 5:36 left in the half. Perry followed that with a 19-yard touchdown run on a 4th and 1 that boosted the lead to 21-7.

The Midshipmen recovered a fumble by Benkert on the Virginia 36. That set up another 1-yard touchdown by Abey with 1:30 remaining in the half.

NOTES: Navy was missing five starters due to injuries: WR Tyler Carmona (shoulder), LB Micah Thomas (wrist), LB Hudson Sullivan (foot), RB Tre Walker (knee), OT Ford Higgins (ankle) and LB Jerry Thompson (undisclosed). … The bowl game marked the 40th meeting between Navy and Virginia and first since 1994. The Midshipmen now lead the all-time series 29-11. … Coach Bronco Mendenhall led BYU to 11 consecutive bowl appearances before arriving taking over the Cavaliers.