The Navy football team, sloppy offensively the first half, still cruised to a ridiculously easy 30-0 win here yesterday over a Connecticut team proud of itself for keeping the score that close.
Navy fumbled twice, dropped two passes and muffed a field goal attempt in the first half and still led, 14-0, on two short touchdown runs by sophomore tailback Steve Callahan.
In the meantime, the defense, which registered its second straight shutout (32-0 last week at Virginia), toyed with the Huskie offense, never letting it inside the 39-yard line all day.
"Give the Connecticut defense some credit," Navy Coach George Welsh said when the rout had mercifully ended. "They did some things up front that kept us guessing. A couple big plays the other way and who knows?"
Anyone in the crowd of 6,804 in picturesque Memorial Stadium knew early that this warm, breezy afternoon would be all Navy's.
The Mids, now 2-0 ground out 47 yards in 13 plays on their second possession, 12 of the plays on the ground, leading to Callahan's one-yard dive. Bob Tata's kick made it 7-0 with 6:17 left in the first quarter.
Navy bogged down after that but with the defense stifling Connecticut it was only a matter of when, not if, the Mids would score again.
"Last week the offense made it easy for us, scoring a lot of points early," said defensive end Charlie Thornton, who had three of the team's five sacks. "This week we knew they needed a lift in the beginning, so we worked to give it to them."
A 36-yard Bob Leszczynski to Sandy Jones strike that carried to the Connecticut 18 finally got the Navy offense rolling and set up Callahan's second score, a five-yard burst up the middle with 3:39 left in the half.
"I thought our defense did well against them." said Connecticut Coach Walt Nadzak. "At this point in our program it is tough for us to compete with them on an even keel. But I didn't think our defense was overmatched I think we're halfway there."
Connecticut, now 1-2 will have to go a long way to get the rest of the way. It has now been outscored by Navy, 144-17, over the last four years.
Yesterday the Midshipmen gained 201 yards which did not include 70 yards in punt returns by Phil McConkey.The Huskies had 106 yards.
"Some of the younger guys weren't clicking on all cyclinders this week getting ready" said McConkey, who scored Navy's two second-half touchdowns, one on a 60-yard bomb from Leszcyzynski, the other on an eight-yard option pass from Callahan. "We (the seniors) knew that you can never just walk onto a football field and automatically win. Maybe that's why we were a little off in the first half."
Bigger, stronger and faster, the Mids had little to worry about despite their mistakes, Leszczynski's first interception of the season didn't matter. Neither did Tata's first missed extra point in 32 tires.
"Listen," Welsh said when asked if the two easy wins would do Navy any good over the long haul, "I'd rather be 2-0 right now than 1-1 with the loss to Michigan. I think we had an easier time with Virginia.
"I really don't understand our defense. I honestly didn't think we were that good: maybe we are, though."
Navy should have a much better idea of how good it is after next week's game at Boston College. For now it can savor the two routs and tell people that it is not only unscored on but virtually unthreatened.
"Their defense was better than we thought and we thought it was good." Nadzak said. "But they'll know better how good they are when they play someone bigger and stronger than us."
With Notre Dame, Florida State and Pittsburgh still to come, the Midshipment will have plenty of opportunities to find out.