The term is shellshocked. That is the only word that can describe the Navy football team today, because three games into a season that began with so much promise and so many hopes, the Midshipmen are 0-3.
And each loss has been more implausible than the last. Today, it was 38-35 to Indiana before 35,610 sun-drenched fans in Indiana University's Memorial Stadium.
After coming from a 31-21 third-quarter deficit to lead, 35-31, in the fourth, after showing both their grit and their talent, the Midshipmen fell apart in the clutch. Their offense couldn't move when it had a chance to put the game away; their defense couldn't hold; and someone went to sleep at the switch when there was still one last chance to win.
"We had the ball last and we had our chances, but we didn't get it," said Coach Gary Tranquill, clearly disgusted. "We just didn't play well on defense. We'd get them third and 20 and give up the first down. That's just ridiculous. You can talk adjustments all you want. It's execution that matters and we didn't execute."
Indiana executed the winning touchdown on a seven-yard pass from Steve Bradley to Eric Jones with 56 seconds left. But Navy had that much time and three timeouts left. The Midshipmen reached the Indiana 30 but got no farther, losing desperately needed seconds at the end because they failed to use any of their timeouts.
"My fault," Tranquill said without elaboration.
Neither defense executed much today: there were 899 yards in offense. Navy quarterback Bill Byrne broke his personal slump with a 19-for-37, 249-yard, three-touchdown day. Two of the three touchdowns went to wideout Tony Hollinger, who caught yet another touchdown pass from tailback Napoleon McCallum on a neat option play and had seven catches for 119 yards.
McCallum, whose Heisman hopes seem buried under the 0-3 wreckage, was his usual wonderful self. He set three more career school records (kickoff returns, kickoff return yardage, punt yardage) bringing his total to 21; he rushed 23 times for 122 yards, caught three passes for 30 more and threw the scoring pass, his first pass since 1981.
But all the numbers -- even two-for-two career passing for 17 yards -- were hardly consolation for McCallum.
"I never expected to be 0-3," he said. "Each week, somebody wins, somebody loses. We just haven't won yet. I know we will, though. This isn't a team of quitters. We'll keep fighting."
Lack of fight was not a problem today. From the start, the offenses controlled the game. Indiana led, 7-0, Navy tied it. Indiana led, 14-7, the Midshipmen closed to 14-13 on two Todd Solomon field goals. Indiana went up, 31-21, on a 52-yard option run by Bradley with two minutes left in the third quarter. Still, Navy came back.
"When we went up 10 it might have seemed like we were in control," said Bradley, who was superb, with 18-for-32 passing for 199 yards, and 77 yards rushing. "But those guys didn't back off."
Down by 10 with two minutes left in the third quarter, Navy quickly went 80 yards and then 62 yards, each drive capped by a Byrne-to-Hollinger touchdown pass, the second one for 17 yards.
That made it 35-31 with 10:18 left. The defense then held again when Steve Brady intercepted Bradley at the Navy 22 with 6:52 left.
"That was the series where we had to move it and we didn't," Byrne said.
Navy punted and Indiana took over at its 36. On third and 10, Bradley hit tight end Dave Lilja, the Midshipmen's Achilles' heel all day (10 catches, 108 yards) to pick up the first down by less than a foot.
The Hoosiers then moved methodically to a first down at the Navy 18. The clock was down to two minutes. Navy stiffened, and when tailback Damon Sweazy only picked up two yards on third and four, it was fourth and two at the 10 with 1:26 left.
"We knew the play would go outside," Tranquill said. "I told them sweep, isolation or option."
It was the option, Bradley stepping right and cutting up. He got the first down -- again by less than a foot.
One play later, the Hoosiers had the winning touchdown. Bradley rolled left, pumped and hit Eric Jones in the left corner. When Jones made his cut, Brady had slipped.
Now it was 38-35. There were 56 seconds left and Navy had three timeouts. Quickly, Byrne hit Hollinger for 15 yards and a first down at the 43. No timeout. Fifteen seconds went off the clock before it was stopped by Byrne's incomplete pass.
With 26 seconds left, Byrne hit Lobb for 17 yards to the Indiana 40. Lobb and defender Jeff Wade were both dazed by their collision and the clock stopped with 19 seconds to go as both players were helped off.
With three timeouts left, Tranquill didn't take one. When the two players were off, the ball was set and the clock started. Byrne and the offense had no idea the clock had started. They took their time coming out of the huddle and by the time the ball was snapped, the clock was at nine seconds.
"It was my fault," Tranquill said. "I guess I should have called time. I just told them, 'Hurry up.' We had a play, we knew what to do, but we didn't get it."
On the play, Indiana was called for holding. That put the ball on the 30 with four seconds left. Tranquill never considered going for the tie and Byrne's desperation pass on the final play carried well out of the end zone.
And so, the game ended with Navy still having three timeouts left.
One for each defeat of this season.