Jeff Morrow, Kent State's senior quarterback, suffered two cracked ribs and a bruised kidney on the second play from scrimmage against Navy today. While Morrow rode to the hospital, sophomore Pat Gladfelter rode to the rescue, bearing credientials of never having completed a college pass.
Gladfelter was less effective than the U.S. Calvery. The Mids had too many horses up front and free-wheeling defenders forced Gladfelter into two lost fumbles and three interceptions that contributed mightily to a 31-3 victory for the home side.
While the outclassed Golden Flashes suffered -- their only points followed a "drive" of minus 17 yards -- happy midshipmen sought ways to celebrate their first victory. The wisest lay down on the hillside, forming varied words of triumph and looking at the sky rather than the carnage on the field.
About the only Navy man who wasn't celebrating was Coach George Welsh, that old curmudgeon who noted that "they stopped themselves. We weren't that good defensively. We were a little flat on defense. They helped us out, that's for sure."
Kent State tried to help right from the start, but it somehow recovered its fumble of the opening kickoff.The Flashes were less successful eight plays later, following Morrow's departure, as defensive end Ken Fancher blasted Gladfelter and Tim Jordan, Navy's second-string middle guard, recovered at the Flashers' 33.
The Mids scored in six plays, Mike Sherlock sweeping left end for the final three yards. The big play came on third and fourth at the 14, as quarterback Fred Reitzel clicked on his first pass, an 11-yarder to split end Steve Callahan.
Callahan's fumble of a punt at the Navy 11 gave Kent State a chance to pull even. However, following a fumbled snap, a holding penalty, a muffed flat pass and a quarterback sack, John Kenneweg needed the assistance of the wind to boot a 44-yard field goal.
Navy got that back on Steve Fehr's 22-yarder, the only points the Mids managed without the Flashers' aid. At that, Reitzel slipped off three tackles near the line of scrimmage to net the required yardage on third and five from his 42.
Jordan was the man in the right spot again as Kent helped boost the Navy margin to 17-3 before halftime.
Blitzing Chis Boblit knocked Gladfelter loose from the ball at the Flashers' 20 and it popped into the air. Jordan, a seldom-used defender who was not credited with a tackle, made his second recovery, grabbing the ball in flight at the 15 and running to the Kent three, where he threw a wild lateral that Navy's Doug Denatelli recovered. Two plays later, Reitzel sneaked over from the one.
"I was more shocked that anybody," Jordan said. "It bounced on his knee and popped into my hands and I had no idea where I was or how far I ran. I'm not used to running. Then the guy had me by the ankles and I saw one of our defensive ends and I tried a lateral. As soon as I threw it, I knew I shouldn't have."
Gladfelter should not have thrown a few he unloaded under pressure in the second half. Navy's Jon Ross picked off one and Elliott Reagans grabbed two as Gladfelter, on 15 throws for the afternoon, hit teammates with six and opponents with three.
Following Ross' grab away from Kent's Rick Langhals at the Navy 35, the Mids drove 65 yards in 10 plays to make it 24-3. Duane Flowers covered the final three yards, after Callahan ripped off 21 on a double reverse, Reitzel covered 17 in two carries and Sherlock galloped 18 in three tries.
Reagans picked off what amounted to a throwaway at the Kent 32 and it became 31-3 before the third quarter ended. The touchdown came on a 20-yard pass to tight end Curt Gainer as Reitzel hung under a Kent blitz.
"We can win with Reitzel now," Welsh said."I think he'll get better each week. He didn't miss anything today and he did things a little bit better."
When Gainer crossed the goal line, the temperamental clock showed that "31:12" remained in the third quarter. To Kent State, now 0-2, it must have seemed an eternity before the gun finally ended a long, long afternoon.
For a marginal team whose star quarterback is out indefinitiely, which risked having his sub run the ball 12 times, which chose to punt from the Navy 30 and to make a fair catch on its own 28 with no opponent within 15 yards, this season could be an eternity.