Somebody buy Gary Tranquill a new blue and gold sweatshirt and strap a rhinestone collar on Bill the Goat. In fact, fire off the cannon and slap some polish on that old bronze Indian in the quad because Navy finally has won a football game and it happened to be against 20th-ranked Virginia, 17-13.
The Midshipmen mustered up a hit parade defense today that limited Virginia to a field goal in the second half, staged a goal line stand, and made Navy's 17 first-half points hold up. The rest was left to Napoleon McCallum, who scored both first-half touchdowns, on runs of one and three yards, and grabbed a crucial third-down pass in the fourth quarter to help preserve the victory.
This is the Navy team that two weeks ago could not beat Division I-AA Delaware and was 0-3 coming into Scott Stadium before a Virginia homecoming crowd of 44,000. But Navy had lost its three games by a combined eight points and the feeling was that something, sometime had to work.
"It was about time," said quarterback Bill Byrne, who completed 10 of 21 passes for 143 yards. "September hasn't been good to us and we wanted to end it the right way. We wanted to get it against Virginia. They were powerful and they were ranked."
Normally reserved Navy Coach Tranquill made doubly sure the Midshipmen were in the correct frame of mind for an upset of previously undefeated Virginia -- which is coached by his predecessor at Navy, George Welsh -- by whipping them into a frenzy this week. He was awarded the game ball for his efforts.
"When you're 0-3, any damn win is good," he said. "We've struggled, but I'm not sure how bad we are."
Not too bad, according to Virginia, which was limited to 113 yards in the second half. The Midshipmen held tailback Barry Word, the fourth-ranked rusher in the nation with an average of 162 yards, to 110 yards on 21 carries. Quarterback Don Majkowski, a swift junior with a talent for the option, completed 11 of 21 passes for 110 yards and gave up two interceptions, his first in seven games. He rushed for 39 yards and Virginia's only touchdown, a four-yard sweep in the second quarter.
"It was apparent to me that Navy was a good team, despite being 0-3," Welsh said. "I was trying to run scared of them."
The only score in the second half was Kenny Stadlin's 25-yard field goal for Virginia with 1:31 left in the third period, and even that was a moral victory for Navy. The Midshipmen held the Cavaliers at the goal line despite a first down and inches. Word had broken off tackle for 29 yards and on the following play the Midshipmen were called for offsides to put Virginia one yard from the goal.
But linebacker Eric Fudge, who also had one of the interceptions, dragged Word down for a loss of two. On the next play, Word appeared to take the ball into the end zone, but the Cavaliers were called for holding and they were left with second and 11 from the 11. Word picked up three, Majkowski's pass bounced off Willie Snead's hands in the end zone, and Virginia settled for the field goal.
An exchange of punts later -- with Navy linebacker Vince McBeth's tackle of fullback Antonio Rice for a five-yard loss on third and five at the Midshipmen 49 forcing the Virginia punt -- it was the offense's turn for a big play, which had been so lacking in Navy's first three games.
The Midshipmen took over on their 22 with 4:11 left, knowing they had to keep the ball out of Virginia's hands. On third and three at the 29, Navy was called for offsides. But on third and eight, Byrne unintentionally found McCallum in a crowd along the Navy sideline for a 24-yard pickup.
The pass was intended for split end John Lobb. But Byrne mistimed his throw and McCallum leaped, tipped it, and came down between linebacker Charles McDaniel and defensive end Scott Hillman. The Midshipmen ran out the clock by moving to the Virginia 15.
"It wasn't supposed to go to me," McCallum said. "But it was close and I figured I'd better not take any chances."
Navy's 17-10 halftime lead could well have been much larger. The Midshipmen wasted opportunities on two interceptions of Majkowski, by Fudge and linebacker Vince McBeth, getting only three points from them on Todd Solomon's 17-yard first-quarter field goal. McCallum made up for it, however, with scoring runs of three yards in the first quarter and one yard in the second.
After Solomon's field goal, Virginia countered with an impressively long drive, capped by Majkowski's four-yard scoring run on second and goal off the option. The 80-yard march took 17 plays and ate up 7:23, Majkowski finally scoring with 12:11 remaining in the half.
On the kickoff, however, McCallum burst through the middle for a 47-yard return, setting up the Midshipmen at midfield. They took just five plays to score for a 10-7 lead. The key play was a 28-yard pickup by reserve tailback Mike Smith, who broke around end on second and seven and was finally dragged down at the Virginia seven. Smith picked up five more yards, and McCallum dove over the left side for the touchdown.
Virginia added a 27-yard field goal by Stadlin on the next series, ending a 56-yard, 12-play drive with six minutes left in the half. But Navy replied by scoring with something approaching ease, moving 80 yards in nine plays and just 3:52, ending with McCallum's one-yard run.
McCallum fought his way through the heart of the Virginia defense for 139 yards on 37 carries. In doing so he set his 22nd Navy rushing record, passing Eddie Meyers -- who had 13 -- in career 100-yard games. His total of 37 carries was the third highest of his career.
"When it's rug-cutting time you do what you do best," Tranquill said. "When I need a first down I'm going to give the ball to McCallum."
So new was this feeling for Navy that the Midshipmen weren't sure how to celebrate.
"We'll probably go out on the town. That's pretty exciting for us," McCallum said.
"I'll probably have a couple of cokes," Byrne said.