Here came three fellows duded up in orange pants, orange shirts and orange faces. Plainly, these were the cursed Orangemen of Syracuse University, advancing on the midshippersons who lead cheers for Navy's football team. "Haillp, haillp," the fair maidens screamed, and here came help. The Marines? The profane Army?

Would you believe a gorilla carrying a big banana?

And a silly person wearing a white jump suit, a blue cape and "Navy" across his chest?

Yes, the gorilla and Super Swab saved the day, causing the Orangemen to flee for safety and everyone in the stadium cheered virtue's triumph.

Alas, the play-acting was Navy's only victory of the day, for in the real hostilities that followed, Syracuse's Orangemen flogged Navy's defense at will, running up a 45-34 embarassment.

Navy could have used the guy in the gorilla suit. It was that bad. Syracuse punted on its first possession, but then scored four straight times for a 24-20 lead.So efficient was the Syracuse offense - or so helpless the Navy

One took 10 seconds, making it 24-17. After Navy scored a field goal with 43 seconds left in the half. Syracuse used five plays to go 62 yards in 40 seconds for a 31-20 lead.

By halftime, the Syracuse quarterback. Bill Hurley, had completed 14 of 19 passes for 192 yards. A running back, Art Monk, had caught 12 of those passes for 167 yards. Super swab should have hit him with his mop.

This wasn't so much a football game as a math quiz. First team to 100 wins. For its part, Navy had scored four times in six possessions in the first half. But Syracuse would roll up 465 yards by game's end, 283 by passing, and no one could remember when Navy last played defense so poorly. Luckily for freedom and All That's Right. Nimitz defended the Pacific better than the Midshipmen did the passing routes today.

[WORD OMITTED FROM SOURCE] defense - that the Orangemen needed only 50 seconds to score their last two touchdowns in the first half.

"We just didn't hit them," said Navy linebacker Bob DeStafney. "They came out and wanted it more than we did. We had planned to cover Monk with a linebacker, but whoooh (a sign of despair). The way it was we were chasing him all day."

Still, all wasn't lost until late. Navy came back to 38-34 with about 11 minutes to play. And the assembled Midshipmen, the entire enrollment of 4,300 - and what a beautiful sight that was, the lot of them marching into the stadium an hour before kickoff to the sound of "Anchors Aweigh" - all of them cheered in anticipation that Right Would Prevail.

Not when your defense is overmatched, where Syracuse had done most of its damage in the air early. This time with victory in the balance, it ran the ball 57 yards in six plays - and then Hurley produced the game's last touchdown with a 22-yard pass to Mike Jones.

"My God, it looked like we hadn't played defense in our life," said Steve Belichick, a Navy assistant coach for 22 seasons. He coaches the defensive ends and punters. "I never saw guys so wide open."

Some defensive coaches might have thrown themselves out of the press box. Not Belichick. He'd seen his team give up 45 points, but he sat there in his press box seat and talked about what a great place the Naval Academy is. Listening, a fellow decided that here was a coach who made sense.

"You get a super kid at Navy," said the coach whose enthusiasm causes DeStafaney to call him "the ageless wonder."

"We never get a hot of here, we've never had the conceited kid. And we've had some gifted athletes - Roger Staubach. Joe Bellino, Pat Donnelly.

"The thing that people don't understand about football at Navy is that these guys lead a very busy life. They take a minimum of 19 hours of classwork. Some are carrying 22 hours. And there are no snap courses. They have to read the books, if you know what I mean. I had three linebackers in 1975 that graduated with degrees in aerospace engineering and aeronautical engineering and this isn't unusual."

Belichick served in the Navy 49 months from 1942 to 1946. He later coached at Hiram (Ohio) College, Vanderbilt and North Carolina before joining Eddie Erdelatz at Navy in 1956. He'll tell you that if a kid wants an education. Navy is the place; eight different engineering degrees, history, political science.

"We have one player who's a Russian major. And I tell recruits that after their five years required service - when they're already making the equivalent of $24,000 a year - that industry will want them because they've held responsible positions in the Navy."

Belichick also will tell you that, as a scout, he once scouted Army nine times in a season. And Army once offered him a coaching job.

"But I've always been a pro-Navy man," Belichick said, smiling at the silly thought he'd ever work for the bad guys.