I'm happy about the bowl game," Navy Coach George Welsh said yesterday after the Mids agreed to face Brigham Young in the Dec. 22 Holiday Bowl at San Diego. He was not the least bit pleased, however, with the ball game he had just witnessed.
Navy, down by only 7-6 at halftime, fell apart due to its own mistakes and the superb passing of Florida State substitute quarter-back Jimmy Jordan and suffered a 38-6 drubbing. It was the first time in 26 games the Mids had failed to score a touchdown.
Jordan, recently demoted to the second team, threw four touchdown passes, three to split end Sam Platt as Navy's secondary broke down in the second half.
Navy's offense consisted of an occasional long pass competition and two field goals by Bob Tata. It was not surprising, with so many regulars on the injured list, but for Navy fans it did not make pleasant watching, especially with the knowledge that millions were getting their first look at the Mids via television.
"I felt helpless," said flanker Phil McConkey, watching from crutches on the sideline. Three other usual starters, tailback Steve Callahan, tight end Curt Gainer and fullback Larry Klawinski, couldn't play, either and then substitute tailback Dwayne Dennis and substitute fullback Kevin Tolbert departed with shoulder injuries.
"Our guys tried," Welsh said, "but when you lose so many kids, we just don't have the depth to replace them. We're really beat up.That's a fact, not an excuse."
Navy's defense, shredded by Notre Dame and Syracuse the last two weeks, turned in a solid effort for two periods before wilting in the 80-degree heat and the knowledge that it could rarely expect more than a four-play respite.
Although Navy managed only four first downs in the first half. Tata's field goals left it only one point behind. It took Florida State almost 26 minutes to reach the goal line, with sub tailback Greg Ramsey sweeping right end from the 12 after grabbing a 33-yard pass from Jordan.
The second half produced the massacre that many expected and the bowl-hungry Seminoles desired. Prior to the game, an Indian on horseback raced past the startled Mids as they lined up for TV introductions, then planted a flaming spear in the FSU symbol at midfield. Meanwhile, others held a sign demanding, "Scalp 'em."
The Mids were scalped, as Florida State scored the first five times it touched the ball in the second half.
Navy helped considerably, with turnovers and collisions on kickoff returns helping to demoralize the visitors.
Keith Jones intercepted a Bob Leszczynski pass at the Navy 39 on the Mids' first series of the second half and returned the ball to the 28. This time, the Navy defense was able to withstand the Seminoles and Dave Cappelen booted a 38-year field goal to make it 10-6.
Dennis and Sandy Jones collided at the goal line as Dennis fielded the ensuring kickoff and Dennis got out only as far as the 14. Then, on second down, Mike Sherlock fumbled when nose guard Ron Simmons blasted him on a deep pitchout and the Sominoles' Mark Macek recovered at the 10.
On third down, Jordan fired a four-yard touchdown pass to split end Sam Platt in the left corner of the end zone and it became 17-6.
Dennis and Jones repeated their act with less intensity on the next kickoff and Dennis was nailed at the 16. A Leszczynski pass was dropped by defender Keith Jones and a Chris Klein fumble was ruled after the whistle before Navy punted the ball away.
Florida State went 56 yards in four plays to make it 24-6, with Jordan hitting Platt in that familiar left corner, behind Gregg Milo and Chuck Zingler, for a 36-yard touchdown.
Navy, aided by a roughing-the-kicker penalty, marched from its 20 to a first down at the Seminoles' 21, its only decent drive of the day, before losing the ball on downs at the 15.
Penalized for illegal procedure, the Seminoles needed only five plays to go 90 yards for another score. Milo missed a third-down tackle on tight end Bill Keck and paid a big price when Jordan hit Platt behind Zingler for a 49-yard score on the next play.
Three runs by Sherlock, somewhat mystifying calls for a team 25 points behind, produced only nine yards on Navy's next series and the Mids punted. Florida State drive back 63 yards in seven plays. Jordan hitting tight end Grady King with a 23-yarder beyond safety Fred Reitzel for his fourth touchdown pass.
Jordan, who relieved starter Wally Woodham midway through the second quarter, completed 15 of 27 passes for 280 yards against the nation's No. 5 team against the pass. His final success came on the last play of the game, as Florida State made every possible attempt to earn points with the Peach Bowl selectors they have been wooing.
If Navy had a hero, it was sopho-more linebacker Ted Dumbauld, who made 16 tackles in his first start, co-captain Nick Mygas joining McConkey and Co. on the sidelines with a bad knee.
Vinnie Vinson, president of the Holiday Bowl, said Navy was that group's choice regardless of yesterday's outcome and added, "Last year, Florida State came out our way and lost to San Diego State, 41-16. Then, they destroyed Florida and went to the Tangerine Bowl and blasted Texas Tech. I think Navy will do as well when it gets some of its players back."
"Our boys deserve a special reward and treat for their effort this season," said Navy Athletic Director Bo Coppedge after gaining approval for the bowl participation form Adm. Thomas Hayward, the Chief of Naval Operations.
The Holiday Bowl will be Navy's first bowl appearance since it lost to Texas, 28-6, in the 1964 Cotton Bowl.
"We're all very proud of them," Coppedge said. "Things were bad today, but I remember a lot of jubilant people while we were winning those first seven games."