If statistics told the whole story, Navy had an easy time with lowly Connecticut today. However, the Midshipmen made enough errors to keep a homecoming crowd of 22,142 from leaving too early before recording a 21-10 victory at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
"Everybody could make excuses -- the wet ball, no intensity, no enthusiasm; you could say a lot of things," said Navy quarterback Bob Powers, who enjoyed an 81-yard rushing and seven-of-13 passing day. "We knew we could move the ball. We just couldn't get in the end zone."
Although junior tailback Mike Sherlock had two touchdowns and his second straight 100-yard-plus day with 156 yards on 27 carries, Navy had only a 7-0 lead at halftime. The Mids did not breathe easily until they drove 78 yards on 24 plays, climaxed by Sherlock's second touchdown on a 10-yard run.
Connecticut (0-2) would like to think its defense had something to do with holding Navy to a mere 21 points in a game the bookies refused to put on the board.
Navy piled up 356 yards rushing and 83 passing and had a mind-boggling 27 first downs. The time of possession was almost 2 to 1 in Navy's favor.
The Mids' offensive front line, bolstered by tackle John Taylor, pushed the Huskies around the field so much that Connecticut's secondary had a busy afternoon. The deep foursome of Peter Lamagna -- who was in on 19 tackles -- Jody Webb, Darrell Wilson and Ted Walton accounted for 22 of their team's 39 first hits.
"Making that number of tackles can make it tough on any secondary," said Wilson. "We sure didn't expect to make that many. Once we started looking 'run,' they opened up in the air. We knew we were getting moved up and down the field but stats don't mean a thing. We were only behind, 7-0, at halftime."
Navy marched down the field on its first possession before Steve Callahan's fumble on the Huskies' 11-yard line stopped the drive.
A minute later, the Mids began another march from the visitors' 48. One the eighth play Sherlock went three yards around the right side for a touchdown. Steve Fehr added the first of three conversion kicks and Navy was on its way, 7-0, with 5:22 left in the first period.
Navy, now 2-0, put together three other ran-it-down-your-throat drives in the first half but each time came away empty. The first march ended with Walton picking off a Powers pass at the Connecticut 32. The second drive, which began after Huskie quarterback Ken Sweitzer misfired on a fourth-down gamble at the Navy 41, chewed up nearly 5 minutes before Fehr missed a 26-yard field goal.
"We can't seem to break open the game," said Navy Coach George Welsh. "We moved the ball pretty well but couldn't get any points. We missed that field goal and committed a lot of mental mistakes."
A holding call against Navy nullified Powers' 20-yard pass to Larry Klawinski at the Huskie 27 and halted the third Navy drive of the second period.
While Navy was fuming that it could must only seven points in 30 minutes, Connecticut players were ecstatic and trotted off to the locker room smiling.
"We felt we were right in the game," said Wilson. "We felt we had a good chance to win it."
Navy, however, took the second half kickoff and marched down the field to score. Starting on their 39, the Mids needed only 10 plays to reach the end zone. Powers got two good blocks and skipped around the right side on a keeper from seven yards out. Fehr's kick made it 14-0 with 10:23 to play in the third period.
Connecticut was having its problems. The running game was almost nonexistent (a total of 32 attempts) and Sweitzer, under tremendous pressure all day, completed seven desperation short passes, including one while almost on his back, for 48 yards.
"We tried to mix our plays up but nothing went that well," said Sweitzer, who was sacked five times. "We knew we had to play a great game to beat them. Their defense was tough."
The Huskies got on the board with 1:07 left in the quarter when Bob Segar booted a 32-yard field goal. Callahan's second fumble had given Connecticut the ball at the Mid 34.
"Both times I fumbled, I was jumping over a man and they tackled the ball," said Callahan, who picked up 38 yards on 12 tries.
Following the three-pointer, Navy moved 78 yards to score. Powers, who said, "They didn't want to be too conservative with a small lead," completed four passes in the drive before Sherlock wrapped up the game with a 10-yard burst up the middle. Fehr's kick sent Navy ahead, 21-3, with 9:48 to play.
"We knew it shouldn't have been that close," said Navy defensive end Charlie Thornton, "The way the offense was moving the ball, we thought the defense would be in for an easy day. But we didn't get ahead far enough to relax."
Connecticut took advantage of another Navy mistake to score its touchdown. Jon Ross fumbled a fair catch and Huskie Mark Santangelo recovered at the Mid 18. Five plays later, Sweitzer bulled over from a yard out for the six points. Segar's kick was good to cut the deficit to 21-10, with 6:17 to play.
The Huskies didn't threaten again.
"I guess this proves you can't take anyone lightly," said Powers. "They were aggressive and tackled the ball a lot. The rain didn't help, either. We were a little shaky out there."
Welsh was not happy with either his offense or defense.
"The intensity or concentration just wasn't there," said Welsh, who undoubtedly will work on both in preparation for Illinois next week in Champagne. "We can't make these kind of mistakes every week and expect to win."