HOUSTON (Ticker) -- B.J. Symons and the nation's top-ranked passing offense picked apart the nation's No. 4 pass defense.
Symons threw for 497 yards and four touchdowns in his final collegiate game to lead Texas Tech to a 38-14 triumph over Navy in the Houston Bowl.
Symons, who set an NCAA record with 5,336 passing yards in the regular season, went 41-of-53 with one interception as he was named the game's Most Valuable Player. It was the Houston native's ninth 400-yard game this season and almost his fifth 500-yard game of the campaign.
"I had a lot of family and friends at the game who never got to see me play live," Symons said. "It was a storybook ending."
"(Symons) basically did the equivalent of break the home run record against the toughest pitching in the country (this year)," Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said. "He never wasted a moment waiting for his chance (to play as a senior)."
The Red Raiders (8-5) held just a 14-7 lead after Navy quarterback Craig Candeto scored on a two-yard run on 4th-and-goal 5:03 into the second half. But Symons immediately led Texas Tech back down the field, and running back Taurean Henderson ran it in from four yards out to make it 21-7 with 5:52 left in the third quarter.
After Candeto's one-yard run pulled Navy within 24-14 with 11:06 to play, Symons countered with a 13-yard TD toss to Jarrett Hicks 2:17 later, and he capped the scoring with a five-yard pass to Mickey Peters with 3:11 to go.
Navy (8-5), which entered the contest boasting the nation's top rushing offense (326.1), gained 289 on the ground but Candeto was limited to 33 yards through the air on 2-of-9 attempts.
"Navy really plays hard," Leach said. "They don't back down at all. Our defensive side of the ball was the key to the win."
On the opening play of the second quarter, Candeto fumbled on a 4th-and-goal run from the Texas Tech 1, and Kenyatta Dawson picked up the football and ran to the Red Raiders' 30.
"I thought my knee might have been down (before the fumble)," said Candeto, who ran 23 times for 90 yards. "We were going to run something else, but if I saw an opening I was going to take it in. They're a very physical team. Very big up front and fast."
"The fumble on the goal line hurt us," Navy coach Paul Johnson said. "That was a big play in the game."
Symons gave the ball back with an interception, but after the Midshipmen were stopped on a 4th-and-8 run at their own 39, Symons took advantage, tossing a four-yard TD to Peters to open the scoring with 10:48 left in the half. The Red Raiders took a 14-0 lead into the break on a 17-yard pass to Nehemiah Glover with 40 seconds to play.
As he had all season, Symons spread the ball well among many receivers. Glover had nine catches for 116 yards, Henderson nine for 83, Peters seven for 107 and Carlos Francis six for 90.
"I said all year the offensive line has played great," Symons said. "We knew we'd see a lot of three-man line from Navy. I had to make the right decisions and not get greedy."
"They spread you out," Johnson said. "That quarterback has a strong arm."
Despite the loss, Navy had an impressive season, winning its first Commander-in-Chief's Trophy since 1981. The Midshipmen had gone 3-30 over the previous three seasons.
"We had to play about as well as can play to stay in the game," Johnson said. "It was a great week, until the game. I'd rather be the coach of my team than the other team."