Murray carries Navy to win

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ANNAPOLIS | When a sprained ankle to fullback Alexander Teich thrust Vince Murray into Navy’s starting lineup, Murray was noticeably raw. But after three starts, the junior has progressed quickly and is emerging as one of Navy’s top offensive threats.

Murray had a career-high 175 yards on 20 carries and sealed the game with a 42-yard run up the middle with under two minutes remaining as Navy held on for a 13-10 win on a rain-soaked afternoon.

It’s the second straight game Murray has gone over 100 yards.

“When you first go in there, everything’s moving a million miles an hour,” Murray said. “You’re just trying to put your head down and gain some yards. With every play, you get a little more experience. You kind of know where your blockers are coming from; you know what the defense is going to do. You just get into the flow of the game.”

The Mids (6-2) won despite not attempting a pass in a game for the second year in a row, having done the same against SMU last year in similar conditions. They finished the game with 338 rushing yards, exceeding 300 yards on the ground for the third straight week.

Murray had a key role in two of the biggest plays of the game for Navy. The Mids held a 6-3 lead at halftime and exploded out of the break with an eight-play, 73-yard touchdown drive. On six of the first seven plays the ball went to Murray, who kept moving the chains with moderate gains.

Then on second-and-2 at the Wake Forest 40-yard line, Navy attacked the perimeter. The Demon Deacons’ defense bit hard on the fake to Murray, and quarterback Kriss Proctor found a huge hole on the left side, then cut back to the right as he went untouched into the end zone.

Later, as the Mids ran out the clock in the fourth quarter, Murray broke free for the first down they needed to end the game with kneel-downs.

“Some people questioned the mesh with me and Kriss, but he did a great job making the right read and making them quick,” Murray said. “Me and Kriss worked a lot together in the spring; we took all the reps with the [second string] last year.”

Proctor played well in making his first career start in place of the injured Ricky Dobbs. He had 96 yards on 23 carries and looked comfortable running the offense even though his only prior collegiate experience was in Navy’s rout of Rice two weeks ago.

He made one key mistake - fumbling at the Wake Forest 2 with a 10-point lead - but the Mids’ defense was stout enough to preserve the advantage.

The only time the Demon Deacons (4-4) found the end zone was on a nine-play, 76-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter. It was the only time Navy allowed Riley Skinner, Wake Forest’s all-time leading passer, to get into a rhythm - he was 4-for-6 for 50 yards on the drive with a 15-yard touchdown strike. But overall Skinner was just 13-for-25 for 173 yards.

Navy forced six Wake Forest punts and a turnover on downs on the afternoon, including one when the Demon Deacons had the ball with a chance to tie or go ahead in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.

“Our mentality as a defense is ‘put it on our shoulders,’ ” linebacker Ross Pospisil said. “In a lot of ways, we were almost thankful that this game was going to be on our shoulders since that’s what we ask for. We just went out and kept fighting. We just wanted to give our team a chance to win.”

It was the fifth straight win for Navy, which is now just one win away from securing a trip to the Texas Bowl. The Mids have kept it interesting along the way, winning three out of their past four games by three points.

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