Navy's Fred Reitzel, who still is learning his quarterback spot, should send William and Mary a thank-you card for boosting his confidence today.
The senior, the Mids' starting safety a year ago, threaded an invisible secondary for 13 completions in 16 attempts for three touchdowns and 207 passing yards as Navy ovewhelmed the visitors, 45-6, before 18,215 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Mids ran up a 35-0 halftime lead, scoring five of their six possessions. They finished with 555 yards total offense, an academy-record 32 first downs and had to punt only once, leaving Coach George Welsh well-pleased with his 2-1 team's progress.
"Our backs are running better and we're catching the ball," said Welsh, who had been unhappy with his receivers in the past two games. "Reitzel is doing a fine job -- I'll take him. We have more weapons now; we're tougher to defend now; there are more things to watch for."
Reitzel said he took advantage of the William and Mary linebackers over-playing the run in the Indian's wide-tackle-six defense to throw touchdown passes of 13 yards to Greg Papajohn, 13 yards to Curt Gainer and again 17 to Papajohn.
And, despite 0-4 William and Mary's loading up against the run, the Mids ground out 330 yards on the ground. Tailback Ed Meyers, who scored Navy's first touchdown on this breezy afternoon, produced his first 100-yard effort this season, with 123 yards on 16 carries -- almost eight yards per carry.
Losing Coach Jimmye Laycock found it hard to believe his team was so flat after almost upsetting Virginia Tech last Saturday. He blamed the Indians' demise on the failure to score after taking the opening kickoff and stalling at the Mids' 31.
"Navy took the monementum and never looked back," Laycock said. "I can't think of anything really good to say about us, so I better not say anything else."
After Navy took possession, the Mids' went into maneuvers that would have made Admiral Nimitz proud, driving 94 yards in 11 plays. Meyers started the rout with a four-yard run around the right side after Kevin Tolbert wiped out the last defender at the goal line, with 5:56 left in the first period.
Meyers accounted for 34 yards in the drive, but the big play was a 42-yard pass fron Reitzel to split end Dave Dent.
William and Mary then began a three-downs-and-punt ritual.
On the Mids' second possession, Reitzel hit Steve Callahan and Dent for 11-and 12-yard gains before flipping a soft pass to a wide-open Papajohn for a 13-yard touchdown. Steve Fehr's conversion made it 14-0.Fifty-three seconds remained in the period.
If Laycock was praying for a miracle, no one was listening. The Mids have everything working and they knew it. The defense, led by linebacker Ted Dumbauld and Mike Kronzer, was giving ground grudgingly.
Following one four-play Indian series that took all of 53 seconds, the Mids marched 70 yards in seven plays to score again. Tight end Gainer snatched a 13-yard Reitzel pass from an Indian defender for the touchdown. Fehr's conversion made it 21-0, with 9:15 left in the half.
The next 10 seconds illustrated Indians frustrations. Kick returner Keith Best, tackled hard by two Mids, fumbled the ball away at his 17. That play took five seconds. Five seconds later, Papajohn ran alone downfield with another Reitzel touchdown pass.
After Jon Ross' interception of Chris Garrity's fourth-down pass at the Navy 30, the hosts marched in formation 70 yards. Mark Sherlock completed the eight-play drive with a five-yard touchdown run and 2:20 remained in the half.
Fehr's 27-yard field goal boosted Navy's advantage to 38-0 before the Indians gave their handful of quiet rooters something to cheer about. Garrity, a slippery runner who spent most of the afternoon either running for the sidelines or on his duff, connected on a 43-yard Hail William and Mary pass to Ray Bisczatat at the Navy 28. Two plays later, the W&M quarterback hit Ed Schiefelbein on a 22-yard touchdown pass to avert the shutout.
The Indian band, so elated at the score, ran onto the field and did its version of the Midshipmen pushup routine that usually follows Navy scores.The William and Mary folks would cheer for nothing else.
Navy quickly scored on Tim Jackson's five-yard run midway in the final quarter.
"We've come a long way since Virginia (Navy lost 6-3)," Welsh said. "I think we're better."
While the Mids fell a few yards short of the school-record 630 yards and a lot of points shy of the 127 total laid on Ursinus in 1918, they were more than satisfied with their 33rd triumph over the Indians in 38 tries.
The only negative factors for Navy were 85 yards in penalties and a sprained knee suffered by defensive end Doug Donatelli.