Navy ran today as if it had forgotten to pull up anchor and was swamped by swift Syracuse, 30-14, before 20,385 in a regionally televised game at Navy-Marines Corps Memorial Stadium.
In losing its third straight game, Navy (6-3) was no match for the agressive Orangemen (6-4). The visitors ran past the slower Mids for 370 yards and gained 421 in all.
Syracuse quarterback Bill Hurley ran for 144 yards, tailback Joe Morris gained 159 and each scored a touchdown. When the Orange ball control game slowed, which wasn't often, Gary Anderson came on and kicked field goals -- three in all.
While the conservative, unimaginative Mids were going through their usual three-downs-and-punt act, Syracuse raced to a 17-0 lead with 9:49 left in the first half.
"It seemed like when they wanted to go downfield, they did it," said Navy defensive end Charlie Thornton. "We had a few big seams in our defense and Hurley and Morris found them. They had a lot of speed and got to the corners on us."
Hurley and Morris, a 5-foot-7, 180-pounder, worked their pitch-and run option to perfection. Hurley, who carried 33 times to gain his 144 yards, bedeviled the Mids time and again. He strung out Navy's defense on the option play and either kept the ball and turned upfield or pitched to his trailer, Morris.
On its second possession, Syracuse marched from its 44 to the Navy 19 but was forced to settle for Anderson's 36-yard field goal. Morris, who set a school single-season rushing mark (he has 1,270 to surpass Larry Csonka's 1,127), turned in a spectacular 21-yard, twisting, tackle-breaking run on a third-and-12 play to keep the drive alive.
Blessed with good field position all afternoon, Syracuse needed only four plays to score its first touchdown. Starting at the Navy 49, Hurley marched his team downfield and capped the drive with an 18-yard scoring pass to Tony Sidor with 2:07 to play in the first period. That made the Orange lead 10-20.
Hurley immediately went for the jugular. The Orangeman's third leading rusher (he surpassed the late Ernie Davis today) rifled a long pass to swift receiver Art Monk, who caught the ball after Navy cornerback Fred Reitzel went for the interception and missed.
Monk gathered in the ball at the Navy 40 and sped down the sideline to the five, where he was tackled by Jon Ross. The play was good for 64 yards. tTwo plays later, Hurley scored from four yards out and Syracuse was ahead, 17-0.
"They beat us with three plays, the keeper, option and the draw play," said Navy Coach George Welsh. "I don't know if they (Syracuse) have gotten better. I know we aren't very good right now. We didn't stop them all day. It seems like we're going backwards."
Syracuse came into the game averaging 28.1 points. But the Orangemen, who are playing all their games on the road this year while their new stadium is being built, also were yielding 27.2.
"Our defense was tremendous in the first half," said Syracuse Coach Frank Maloney. "And getting the good field position was the key. We've been an outstanding rushing team all year, so I wasn't shocked the way we moved the ball on Navy."
Navy was surprised it could not move the ball against Syracuse. The Mids finished with 225 yards, 128 on the ground. Navy had 13 first downs to Syracuse's 25, had 54 offensive plays to the visitors' 83 and was an embarrassing 0 for 12 on third-down conversions.
Navy got on the board with 4:53 left in the third period when Powers hit Dave Dent with a nine-yard toughdown pass.
But Syracuse came right back, driving 54 yards for a score. Morris and Hurley did all the damage, alternating carries until Morris sprinted six yards untouched for the touchdown with 19 seconds left in the third quarter for a 24-7 lead. Navy never challenged again.
"We didn't feel their team speed was up to ours," said Morris, a sophomore.
"We left the middle alone most of the time. That's where Navy's strength is. We got good blocks on the corners and were able to turn the plays upfield. If they came for Bill (Hurley), I got the ball. If they went for me Bill kept it. Everything worked."
Navy didn't help itself with some slipshod tackling. Mid defenders either completely missed the elusive Hurley and Morris or tried arm-tackling them.
"That's part of the problem, too," said Welsh. "No intensity. We gave up some easy plays."
Syracuse rarely had any third-down problems, clicking off nine runs of 10 yards or more. The Orangemen moved ahead 27-7, on Anderson's 23-yard field goal with 9:39 to play in the game.
Powers, who completed only seven of 18 for 114 yards, hit Ed Meyers and Greg Papajohn with consecutive passes to help Navy get its final score. Meyers, who rushed for 76 yards on 17 carries, bolted up the middle and carried three Syracuse defenders on his back to the goal line for a 12-yard touchdown.
Syracuse closed out its scoring parade with Anderson's 29-yard field goal, his 14th in 17 tries this year, with 2:11 to play.
The score could have been worse. On Syracuse's first possession, Morris fumbled away the ball at the Mid 25. The Orangemen also once had the ball at the Navy one and elected to go for a field goal.
"Once we got that 17-0 lead, we were content to lay back," said Maloney who had directed his team to three straight wins over Navy. "Let them come after us."
"It seems like we took too long to get started," said Powers. "We couldn't get those five and six yards a crack like we're used to getting. We couldn't get our ground game going at all. Once their defense got a little tired, we started to move. But then they came right back and scored. Maybe we waited too late."
The slick surface didn't hurt the Syracuse attack one bit. Hurley's pitches were on target each time and Morris' fumble was the Orange's only turnover.
"We were content to run the ball. We didn't have to pass," said Morris, who rushed for 203 yards against the Mids last year. "I expected Navy to be much tougher against the run than they were. We just blocked well all game. Those were some tough yards. I earned them on each carry (he had 30." g
Except for an assortment of minor bumps and bruises, Navy came out of this game without major injuries. Nose guard Terry Huxel sprained an ankle and Ross was knocked woozy on a play, but both are expected to play at Georgia Tech next Saturday. Tailback Steve Callahan, who has missed the last five games with a knee sprain, played several downs at wide receiver and said the "knee felt fine."