ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 12 -- Two words summarize Elliot Uzelac's first game as the Naval Academy's head football coach. Mistakes. Loss.
Lots of the first led to one of the second, 27-12, to William and Mary before a decidedly subdued crowd of 20,274 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The defeat was Navy's eighth in a row over two seasons, its longest losing streak since 1970.
"We're a very young team and I believe we will get better," Uzelac said. "We've just got to play right and not make mistakes. I don't want to take anything away from William and Mary, because they outplayed us today, but if Navy had played smarter, we could have won this game.
"We played like a young, inexperienced team today," quarterbacks coach Greg Seamon said, "and we can't afford to do that."
But mistakes are hard to avoid in a season-opening game with 11 new starters on defense and a new offensive system being led by a senior quarterback whose collegiate career consists of seven plays.
Navy did put together a 14-play, 80-yard touchdown drive just before halftime. Before that, however, William and Mary -- defeated, 49-25, last week by East Tennessee State -- drove 80 and 68 yards for touchdowns, turned three Navy turnovers into two field goals and a touchdown and led, 27-0.
"We knew they had a young defense," said William and Mary quarterback John Brosnahan, who took advantage of it by completing 14 of 19 passes for 187 yards and running 10 times for another 42. "So, getting a big lead early was important."
William & Mary took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown. Tailback Erick Elliott (22 carries, 100 yards) carried five times for 30 yards, Brosnahan threw twice to wide receiver Dave Szydlik for 28 yards and fullback Larry Black carried twice for 15 yards, including a 12-yard scoring run 4:40 into the game.
The Indians' next score came with considerably less effort. On a first down from their own 40, Navy quarterback John Nobers and fullback Curtis Brown blew a handoff exchange, and William and Mary linebacker Todd Scruggs fell on the loose ball. Six plays later, the Indians made it 9-0 on a 35-yard field goal by Steve Christie.
Navy's next possession also ended in a turnover in its own half of the field. Nobers, after throwing one pass that was tipped and nearly intercepted, threw a pass that was tipped and was intercepted.
On first down from Navy's 49, Brosnahan threw over the middle to a wide-open Henry Mehre for a 36-yard gain. Three plays later, Brosnahan again found Mehre, this time for six yards and a touchdown for 16-0.
After the Midshipmen punted, William and Mary took over at its 38. Helped by passes of 16 and 11 yards to Mehre (five receptions, 78 yards) and a 25-yard option run by Brosnahan, they drove for a one-yard touchdown dive by Reggie Hodnett. A two-point conversion made it 24-0.
Three plays after the kickoff, Nobers (three of 12, 46 yards) again was intercepted. That set up a 36-yard field goal by Christie for 27-0.
It was a considerable letdown for a team about which Uzelac had been extremely enthused throughout the preseason -- and one that he still seems to think is talented enough to win.
"I thought the first half stunk," Uzelac said. "I thought we had great enthusiasm coming in, but if you don't follow that up by doing things right, it doesn't matter. For example, we had 10 missed assignments on defense in the first half."
Still, Uzelac did not lose his cool at halftime. "I said if we can get one score, and then another in the third quarter, we can win this game."
However, on their first possession of the second half, the Midshipmen failed to convert after facing a second down and five. On their next possession, the Midshipmen drove from their own 36 to a first and 10 at William and Mary's 12 and then failed to convert on a fourth and four.
Navy then let the Indians have the ball for 8:20 before forcing them to punt. When the Midshipmen did get the ball back, they drove 82 yards in 20 plays for a two-yard touchdown run by Curtis Brown.
"We made a few mistakes, a lot of mistakes," said Navy halfback Chuck Smith, who led the Midshipmen with 94 yards rushing on 15 carries. "But this team will correct those mistakes and this team will win football games."
William & Mary 9 18 0 0 27 Navy 0 6 0 6 12
W&M -- Black 12 run (kick failed)
W&M -- FG Christie 35
W&M -- Mahre 8 pass Brosnahan (Christie kick)
W&M -- Hodnett 1 run (Hodnett run)
W&M -- FG Christie 36
N -- Nobers 2 run (kick failed)
N -- C. Brown 3 run (run failed)
A -- 20,274 W&M Navy First downs 17 15 Rushes-yards 52-200 58-244 Passing 187 46 Return yards 31 35 Passes 14-19-0 3-12-2 Punts-average 4-44.8 5-39.8 Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-1 Penalties-yards 4-4
RUSHING -- W&M: Elliott 22-100, Brosnahan, 10-42, Black 9-37, Hodnett 6-11, Shelton 4-7, Menke 1-3. Navy: S
PASSING -- W&M: Brosnahan 14-19-0, 187 yards. Navy: Nobers 3-12-2, 46.
RECEIVING: W&M: Mahre 5-78, Szydlik 3-50, Lewis 2-23, Elliott 2-13, Schiffler, 1-15, Compher 1-8. Navy: Jor
MISSED FIELD GOALS: W&M: Christie 32.