It was such a beautiful day, it seemed a shame to mar it with a football game. Especially a Virgiania football game.
The Cavaliers, displaying their usual ineptitude in all phases of the game - except punting - dropped a 32-0 decision to a Navy team that must awaits a later weekend for a true test of its ability.
Virginia lost three of its five fumbles, threw one interception, dropped innumerable passes while completing only 13 of 29, and did not top 100 yards in offense until the last minute of the game, when it recorded four of its nine first downs.
"I apologise to you for having to watch that," said Virginia Coach Dick Bestwick. "I hated to watch it myself. It was utter frustration for me."
One man's ulcers are another man's contented burps, however, and Navy Coach George Welsh noted that, "I'm happy with the way the game went. We don't know a lot of things yet - whether we can come from behind, whether we can play tough in the fourth quarter. But we were able to use a lot of new players."
Some of the old ones did some memorable work, too. Quarterback Bob Leszcynski completed nine of 13 passes for 210 yards, spilt end Phil McConkey grabbed five for 149 and tailback Steve Callahan galloped for 100 yards and two touchdowns in 21 carries.
Four of McConkey's catches, for 141 yards, came in the first period, which ended with Navy ahead, 18-0. One covered 73 yeards, as Leszcynski, with the ball on his three, dropped into the end zone and fired a perfect bomb.
McConkey grabbedit at the Navy 45 and was finally hauled down by cornerback Derrick Glasper at the Virginia 24. It was the third-longest pass play in Navy history, the longest not to result in a touchdown.
"Anytime they're man to man on McConkey," we'll throw the ball no matter where we are," Welsh said.
Navy's first throw to McConkey, for 39 yards, was the key play of an 82 yard, nine-play drive following the opening kickoff. On third and four from the Mids' 24, McConkey, despite a double team, cut between defenders Bryan Shumock and Mike Brancati to grab Leszcynski's toss at the 50 and carry it to the Virginia 37.
Leszcynski hit McConkey with a 10-yard sideline pass before Callahan covered the last 14 yards. The hefty sophomore started around right end, then cut inside and waved a hip at bewildered safety Tony Blount before crossing the goal line.
On Virginia's second offensive play, quarterback Phil Spencer was hit as he pitchedout. Greg Taylor couldn't handle the low pitch and the Mids' Tom Paulk recovered at the Cavaliers' 24.
A Leszcynski-to-McConkey aerial covered 19 yards, to the one, and Callahan sprinted the final yard around right end. Navy pulled a fake on the extra-point try, with holder Leszcynski passing to fullback Larry Klawinski for two extra points and a 15-0 lead after 6 minutes 3 seconds.
"It was called," Welsh said. "We made the decision to go for 15 if we got ahead early."
The 73-yard pass set up a 34-yard field goal by Bob Tata, and it was 18-0 before the first period ended.
Three 15-yard penalties helped blank Navy in the second quarter, but the Mids pouunced on Taylor's third lost fumble of the game and drove 39 yards for another touchdown in the third period.
Leszcynski ran left on a keeper for the final seven yards. Defensive tackle Greg Brown seemingly had the quarteback lined up, but Leszczynski pumped and Brown watched.
That helped Welsh relax. He said later, "I didn't think it was easy until the 25th point."
Informed that Virginia had not penetrated Navy's 34 until the last 30 seconds, however, Welsh laughed and said, "I wonder what I was nervous about.
One can only wonder if Welsh becomes nervous while crossing the street. It was 15-0 early and the last time Virginia scored 15 points in a game was in 1976, in a 21-20 victory over Lehigh.
The Cavaliers haven't scored at all in two games this year, which matches last year's start when they recorded seven points in the first five games. It was no coincidence that yesterday's first home game marked homecoming: Virginia fans traditionally have little to come home to, after the initial "Wait till next year" feeling is dissolved.
There was a bit of a stir late in the third quarter when Quentin Murray recovered a Navy fumble on the Mids' 35. On first down, Spencer attempted to pitch to Taylor, who ducked what was actually a forward pass. After Taylor gained a yard, Spencer was sacked by Thunder Thornton.
Punter Russ Henderson, who averaged 47.1 yards on seven punts, kicked out on the Navy four. The Mids then marched 96 yards in 14 plays under the direction of reserve Bob Powers, who ran the last five himself.
Both McConkey and fellow receiver Sandy Jones suffered from cramps and the heat on the Astroturf was unpleasant for everyone.
McConkey, whose production was limited after the first quarter by double-teaming and Navy's desire to exercise ground control, had a kind word for Virginia: "They're hard-hitters. They're pretty close to being a good football team. They'll win some games."