Navy hasn't had much trouble running the football against anyone this season. Today, the Midshipmen found out they could pass it, too.
Quarterback Marco Pagnanelli completed 16 of 23 passes for 183 yards, and Eddie Meyers carried a school record 43 times, rushed for 147 yards and scored both Navy touchdowns, as the Midshipmen defeated Boston College, 25-10.
Navy kicker Steve Fehr also kicked field goals of 36, 41, 41 and 28 yards, moving ahead of Bob Tata into second place on Navy's all-time scoring list. He has 164 points and trails only Joe Bellino, who scored 198 points. This was the third time in his career Fehr has made four field goals in a game. He is 13 of 17 this season.
"Seventeen field goals is an awful lot to kick, especially since I only kicked 24 all of last season," said Fehr, "but we're playing bigger and better teams, and sometimes that's all they'll give you is the field goal."
Fehr kicked two of his three first-half field goals in the last 90 seconds of the second quarter as the Midshipmen broke away from a 10-10 tie to lead, 16-10, at halftime.
Fehr kicked a 41-yarder for a 13-10 Navy lead with 1:29 left in the half, and, after a Boston College punt and two Pagnanelli completions, added another 41-yarder as time ran out.
The Midshipmen had taken the ball at their 49 with 23 seconds left in the half. On first down, Pagnanelli passed 13 yards to Mitchell, who stepped out of bounds to stop the clock with 14 seconds left.
Navy had no timeouts left. Pagnanelli found tight end Greg Papajohn over the middle. Papajohn failed to get out of bounds, but the clock stopped while the down markers were moved. That gave Navy time to hurry the field goal team onto the field.
"That was the play that killed us," said Boston College Coach Jack Bicknell. "Those three points stunned us."
The Midshipmen got another Meyers touchdown and another Fehr field goal in the second half and held the Eagles scoreless, even without middle guard Tim Jordan, who injured his right knee late in the first half.
The seriousness of the injury won't be known until Sunday or Monday, but Coach George Welsh said Jordan could have played in an emergency in the second half.
The Eagles, one of the biggest teams in the country, averaging 255 pounds on both its offensive and defensive lines, made it easy for Navy to score both touchdowns. They fumbled the opening kickoff to give the Midshipmen the ball at the 16 and fumbled again at midfield late in the third quarter.
Meyers scored from one yard out after the first fumble was recovered by Brian Cianella. He scored again from five yards out after Paul Soares recovered the second.
Welsh has bemoaned his team's lack of a passing offense all season. But today Pagnanelli said he changed "about one third of the plays at the line" and continually found open receivers. Nine of the completions were to wide receivers Troy Mitchell and Chris Yelder. The two had caught only nine passes in the first five games.
Pagnanelli went into the game as Navy's third leading rusher with 220 yards, most of them coming off scrambles. "I'd rather pass than run," he said, "and I was able to stay in the pocket today and find a receiver."
"The passing game is getting a little better," said Welsh. "At least we know now that our wide receivers can catch the football."
With Pagnanelli's passes complementing Meyers' runs, Navy was able to keep Boston College off balance and controlled the game from the outset. Whenever the Midshipmen bogged down, Fehr bailed them out.
"He's like money in the bank," said Meyers. "Once we get inside the 40, we have a 99 percent chance of getting some points. He won the game for us today."
Navy's game plan had to be changed somewhat when Bob Moore left the game with a knee injury after the extra point following Meyers' first touchdown.
Moore (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) is the center on punts and field goals and plays tight end in Navy's two tight-end offense. He is an intimidating blocker from that spot and has emerged as a key to Navy's running attack. The severity of his injury won't be known until Sunday or Monday, but the Midshipmen felt his loss immediately.
Moore's backup on the long snaps, Brian Murtha, hadn't made a long snap all season. His first one today sailed over punter Fehr's head, eventually leading to Boston College's only touchdown, a 14-yard run by tailback Howie Brown that tied the score, 7-7, midway through the first period.
Murtha also had a low snap on the extra point following the final Navy touchdown, causing Fehr to miss it, breaking his consecutive string of successful extra points at 46.