ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 26 -- Defeated twice by Division I-AA opponents to start the season, Navy began its Division I-A schedule this afternoon but the result didn't change. North Carolina handed the Midshipmen their third loss of the season, 45-14, before 23,636 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
The Midshipmen have now lost 10 consecutive games, their second-worst losing streak in history. Navy lost 13 in a row during the 1947 and 1948 seasons.
"It's the worst performance I've ever seen while coaching, period," Navy Coach Elliot Uzelac said. "It can't get any worse than that. If it does, we might as well put it away."
North Carolina (3-1) scored touchdowns on each of its first four possessions and led, 28-0, after 21:58. Navy fumbled the ball six times, losing three, had two bad punt snaps and one punt blocked.
North Carolina tailback Eric Starr, starting in place of injured Torin Dorn, rushed 19 times for 127 yards, caught three passes for 38 yards and scored three touchdowns. Navy had 206 yards total offense.
"If you can't run the offense, you can't play defense and you can't kick, it's going to be a long afternoon," Uzelac said. "In a nut shell, this team doesn't understand execution. As bad as Navy played . . . I doubt seriously if North Carolina got anything out of this game."
Tar Heels Coach Dick Crum did get something out of it -- the game ball. His players voted it to him for becoming the winningest coach in North Carolina history. Crum, who now has 70 victories in his nine-plus seasons at Chapel Hill, surpassed his predecessor, Bill Dooley.
Asked to name the difference between this and previous Navy teams, Crum replied, "I think it has a lot to do with recruiting. In the past, they recruited good kids but maybe not such good football players. But I think you'll see that turn around with Elliot and the new coaching staff."
With quarterback John Nobers (five of 10, 90 yards), backup Alton Grizzard (two of six, 21 yards), tailback Chuck Smith (eight carries, 30 yards) and defensive back Larry Dickinson waiting in the back of the interview room, Uzelac concluded his postgame news conference by saying, "I'm done. Boy, am I done. Now I know what a boxer feels like after he's had the hell beaten out of him."
Navy took the opening kickoff, and after getting a first down on an 11-yard run by Nobers, it had to punt. Ten plays later, the Tar Heels led, 7-0.
It was the second time in three games Navy's opponent had scored a touchdown the first time it had the ball. Lehigh missed a field goal attempt at the end of its first possession last week.
"We have to come out smoking and we haven't done it," said linebacker Mark Pimpo, who later made Navy's first interception in eight games. "We have to stop people on their first drives and we have to do something on ours."
Starting from its own 27, Navy used four runs and an 18-yard play-action pass from Nobers to fullback Bert Pangrazio to move to North Carolina's 46.
But then, on third down and 5, Nobers faked the handoff, went down the line -- and dropped the ball. North Carolina nose guard Carlton Bailey fell on it at the 49 and the Tar Heels offense went right back to work.
Fullback James Thompson rushed straight ahead for four yards. Starr took a pitchout and gained 10. Mark Maye (11 of 16, 143 yards) passed to split end Eric Lewis for 16. Starr took a handoff, broke away from safety Mike Marchildon at the line of scrimmage and sprinted the final 21 yards for the score.
The Midshipmen gained three yards on three plays and sent Andy Mueck back out to punt. A bad snap from Dan Bishop forced Mueck to scramble and attempt a kick on the run. Norris Davis blocked the ball straight up and Antonio Goss made the catch at Navy's 25.
Four runs and a holding penalty left the Tar Heels with a second and 18 from the 19.
No problem. Starr took a handoff from Maye, started left and gave the ball to flanker Randy Marriott, who scored untouched.
Navy then went from its own 28 to North Carolina's 32. But after Nobers carried for eight yards on first down, the Midshipmen were unable to move. North Carolina took over on downs at its 26.
Now it was Maye's turn. He completed four of five passes for 51 yards and the Tar Heels went 74 yards in nine plays for a 28-0 lead.
At that point, Nobers was replaced by Grizzard and Maye was replaced by Dan Walkowiak.
Maye returned at the start of the second half and drove North Carolina 62 yards in 10 plays for a five-yard touchdown run by Starr.
Nobers also returned and led a 76-yard drive that ended in a one-yard option pass from Smith to Chris Mosher. But North Carolina added a 19-yard field goal by Kenny Miller and a 27-yard fumble return by Davis after Nobers was sacked to make it 45-7. Smith's 13-yard touchdown run with 8:25 to play closed out the scoring.
"Sure it's disappointing," Nobers said, "But what are we going to do, quit?"