Gary Tranquill does not accept moral victories. Tranquill's Navy football team battled ninth-ranked Arkansas from beginning to end Saturday night, earning considerable respect in the process, but the 29-17 defeat was enough to spoil Tranquill's sleep.
"I admire our kids; they played hard and never gave up," said Tranquill, who watched a televised replay until early morning and still was up before sunrise searching for the newspaper reviews. "I think we became a football team. But I hate to lose. I don't care if we're playing the Steelers, I go out there to win."
Navy scored first, on a 50-yard pass from Marco Pagnanelli to Bill Cebak, and last, on a six-yarder from Pagnanelli to tailback Rich Clouse. Pagnanelli completed 19 of 30 passes for 274 yards in his best career effort.
In between, however, Arkansas' big, fast backs got through the Navy defense. The Razorbacks rushed for 266 yards and stayed on the ground for all 18 plays in one 89-yard scoring drive.
"They hammered us," Tranquill said. "They're a big, solid up-front team and they wear you down. We could have been blown out several times but we still came back."
"It gets really tiring, when they keep banging away and you want it to end," said linebacker Andy Ponseigo, who was credited with 21 tackles. "But the only way it will end is if you play well and stop them, and we couldn't do it."
Navy also got tired of fighting the officials. There were a number of questionable calls, almost all going against the Midshipmen. "It was the worst job of officiating I have ever seen in the second half," Tranquill said.
A holding call against Navy, which preceded a second-period Arkansas safety, was made by the back judge, 25 yards away in the Arkansas defensive area.
A debatable fourth-down interference call against Navy's Kurt Dixon, a key factor in Arkansas' third touchdown drive, was made by the same official. Tranquill termed it "a lousy call" and pointed out that Arkansas had an ineligible receiver downfield on the play.
The Razorbacks admitted they had taken Navy too lightly and were lavish in their praise of the Midshipmen.
"Give Navy credit -- we were outcoached, outplayed and outeverythinged," said Arkansas Coach Lou Holtz. "They were outmanned but they played hard the entire game."
Locally: At Maryland, Coach Bobby Ross expressed concern for the inconsistency shown by his running backs and receivers so far this year, including Saturday's 19-18 loss at West Virginia.
The Terrapins were unsuccessful on an attempt to make a two-point conversion with 1:39 to play when both tight ends ran an incorrect pass pattern. Ron Fazio, immediately after the game, said he was the player who botched the attempt. But Ross, after viewing game film yesterday, said that senior John Tice ran the wrong pattern also.
"It was just a poorly executed play," Ross said, "and I don't know why. They (the tight ends) ran the opposite of what we called. We just blew it."
Wide receiver Mike Lewis, who dropped two would-be first down passes and a fair-catch punt that led to a West Virginia field goal, may play less as a result.
"We haven't discussed it (totally replacing Lewis) yet," Ross said. "But I would say that Greg Hill and Spencer Scriber will both have a lot more playing time. They're doing some things right. We've got to get more consistent performances by our backs and receivers."
The only serious injury from Saturday's game was suffered by defensive end Joe Aulisi, who will miss at least a week with a separated right shoulder.
At Virginia, Coach George Welsh was uncharacteristically brief in his comments, still upset at Saturday's 21-17 upset by upstart James Madison. Many of his answers to questions were either yes or no. Asked if he planned any major changes, Welsh said, "I'm not going to change anything until Monday, if then."
Nationally: Heisman Trophy contender Jim Kelly's injured shoulder was diagnosed as a separation yesterday and the senior quarterback will be lost to the Miami Hurricanes for the rest of the season. "I just got word that Jim did separate his shoulder and it's severe enough to have surgery," Coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "Of course, he will be lost for the rest of the season."
Schnellenberger said, "It looks like the type of injury where they can go in and repair the damage and he should have a fine pro career." Kelly, who had been projected as a No. 1 draft choice next spring, fell on his throwing shoulder after running for 20 yards in the fourth quarter of a 14-8 Miami victory at Virginia Tech.
At Tucson, top-ranked Washington built a 20-0 halftime lead and coasted to a 23-13 victory over Arizona in a Pac-10 game. At Texas-El Paso, sixth-ranked Southern Methodist won, 31-10, as Eric Dickerson scored twice and gained 165 yards, increasing his career total to 3,171 and setting a school record.