Navy shook off a lethargic first quarter and scored all of its points in the second to swamp Villanova, 24-15, today before 21,616 in the final home game this season at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Midshipmen (4-2) will enjoy watching the game films of the second quarter, their most productive of the season. Actually, it took only 11:10 for Navy to all but bury the Wildcats and send them into the intermission muttering nasty things to themselves.
"It's our history to start slowly," said Navy quarterback Fred Reitzel, who was a woeful three for 19 in the embarrassing last-second defeat at Air Force last week, but completed 10 of 22 passes today. "We were just a bit flat. The second period was different."
Villanova's demise began when a tricky, gusty wind, combined with a hard Mid charge, brought a 19-yard punt by Joe Borajkiewicz to his 31. It took only five plays for the Mids to reach the end zone. Reitzel hit Greg Papajohn at the Villanova two and the end dived into the end zone to complete a 15-yard scoring play. Steve Fehr kicked the extra point and the blitz was on, 7-0, with 11:10 left in the quarter.
"Everything started to click in the quarter," said Reitzel, again the victim of several dropped balls. "We had to put points on the board. It was that simple."
Another Villanova series went backwards and the Mids set up shop at their 42. Steve Callahan sprinted 24 yards with a reverse and Reitzel found Curt Gainer for 17 yards and Dave Dent for 11 more to move the ball to the three. Reitzel lost a yard, and almost the ball, when he mishandled a snap. But on the next play he made a nice fake to fullback Kevin Tolbert up the middle and scored on a keeper around the left side. Fehr's kick made it 14-0 with 7:11 left.
The Villanova offense was stuck in neutral. The wishbone attack, which Air Force used with success last week, was null and void today as nose guard Tim Jordan and linebackers Ted Dumbauld and Mike Kronzer seemed to be part of the visitors' backfield.Jordan got three straight sacks for a total of 27 yards in losses in one series in the second quarter. Villanova gained only 69 yards in the first two quarters.
After Jordan's big series, Navy scored again. Tolbert, who had 65 yards on eight carries, culminated a six-play, 60-yard march with a 20-yard burst up the middle with 1:33 left.
Fehr closed out the big period with a 49-yard field goal that might have been good from 60 yards. It was a Navy record.
"That field goal made a difference psychologically at the end of the half," Navy Coach George Welsh said. "The kicking game definitely helped us today. (Lex) Lauletta did a good job of punting.
Villanova (3-3) suddenly improved its blocking in the second half. Held to 69 total yards in the first half, the Wildcats outplayed the Mids in the second half. They did something rarely done against the defense rated No. 1 in the nation going into the game, driving 96 yards to score their first touchdown. Runs of 35 yards by Ziesel and 31 yards by Pat O'Brien, one of three quarterbacks used by Coach Dick Besedem, were the big plays in the drive. O'Brien scored from five yards out on the 11th play and Chuck Bushbeck kicked the conversion to cut the score to 24-7, with 2:09 left in the third period.
Just to show the drive was no fluke, the Wildcats came right back with another one, 72 yards, with O'brien again scoring from five yards out. Mike Keppick scored on a conversion run and Villanova was back, 24-15, with 10:57 to play.
Navy didn't panic. While the Mids didn't score any more points, they did a good job of running down the clock.
Although the Mids insisted they weren't worried, the Wildcats made one more effort to come even closer.A last minute drive reached the Navy 41 before Kronzer's interception of a Dan Greene pass killed the threat.
"The offense did a good job near the end when it made that drive," Welsh said.