ANNAPOLIS, SEPT. 29 -- The leading receivers of Navy passes today -- each with three -- were Jerry Dawson, Dave Berghult and Jason Pohopek.
Unfortunately for the Midshipmen, Pohopek is a sophomore linebacker for Boston College. His three interceptions marked half the turnovers committed by Navy and they played a vital role in the Eagles' 28-17 victory.
"You can't win a game against a good team with six turnovers," said Navy Coach George Chaump. "The turnovers killed us. We self-destructed. . . . "
Quarterback Alton Grizzard, throwing in the face of a relentless BC pass rush, was intercepted five times and also was stripped of the ball on his own 5-yard line, setting up the game's final score.
Grizzard has thrown 10 interceptions this season in 130 attempts. He was intercepted nine times over the three previous seasons, only twice last year in 147 throws.
"Grizzard is a great kid and you pray for him and pull for him," Chaump said. "But instead of it happening, it's going the other way. If anything, he may put too much pressure on himself. He has to realize there are other players out there. He's a better passer than he shows. It's a big problem."
A 68-yard punt return for a touchdown by Dawson helped Navy build a 17-14 lead in the first half. But the Midshipmen managed only 103 yards of offense after intermission and BC took advantage of two mistakes to post its first victory of the season following two losses.
After receiving the second-half kickoff, Navy (2-2) reeled off three first downs in marching from its 20 to the BC 42. On third and two, Grizzard wobbled a pass into the right flat and Pohopek grabbed it.
"He was struggling all day," said Pohopek, whose 11 tackles led the Eagles. "Our line put pressure on him all day and all he could do was throw underneath. I just stepped in front of the tight end."
The Eagles took the lead on a 58-yard, nine-play drive culminated by quarterback Glenn Foley's third touchdown pass of the game, a 17-yarder to flanker Ray Hilvert. Foley clicked on 16 of 26 for 223 yards.
On the play before the decisive score, Navy cornerback Chris Cordero dropped an errant Foley toss at the 3.
A bad snap cost BC a field goal for the second time after linebacker Matt Kelley intercepted a Grizzard pass and carried it back to the Navy 16. But when outside linebacker Kevin Donovan stripped Grizzard of the ball and Kelley recovered at the Navy 5, the Eagles increased their lead.
Tailback Tim Frager, who rushed for 101 yards on 23 carries, circled right end on the first play for the insurance touchdown that left Navy on the ropes.
The Midshipmen had one more chance to get back in it early in the fourth quarter. Frank Schenk was short on a 52-yard field-goal try, but an illegal substitution gave Navy another chance, fourth and five at the 30.
This time, the Midshipmen went for it, but the roar of approval from the crowd of 25,552 quickly faded. Grizzard threw laterally to B.J. Mason at the left sideline. Mason, with no running room, bumped into blocker Michael Davis and went down, three yards short of the marker.
Aside from Dawson's spectacular punt return, about the only positive note for Navy was the debut of plebe Jason Van Matre at tailback.
Van Matre, the quarterback of the future, showed some sharp moves in seven carries that netted 38 yards, more than all the other Navy runners combined save Grizzard, who totaled 60 in 14 attempts.
"He has a unique running ability, uncanny at times," Chaump said. "You got a taste of it today. He can help our running game if we give him the opportunity."
If Grizzard stays at quarterback, Navy no doubt will have Van Matre throwing out of the tailback spot as well. Chaump has to do something to relieve the pressure.
"We have to analyze what's wrong," he said. "We'll do anything to get a winning football team. I'm not opposed to change. I'll change anywhere or anybody to get better. But I wouldn't do anything radical without a careful study of what went wrong."
To listen to Boston College Coach Jack Bicknell, one would think the Eagles had lost the game. Bicknell admitted he was wearing headsets near the end, talking and listening, even though his assistants already had left the press box.
"We did some things out there I just couldn't believe," Bicknell said. "I never saw so many crazy things happen -- bad snaps on two field goals, 12 men on the field, all kinds of illegal motion. This was ugly. The whole outfit is tight, including me."
Said Pohopek: "We have to capitalize better on the turnovers. Today we didn't play at top capacity. If we had, the score might have been 55-0."
Boston College marched 35 yards after cornerback Chandler White's interception to grab a 7-0 lead on a 10-yard pass from Foley to fullback Ed Toner.
Navy closed to 7-3 on a 21-yard field goal by Schenk and moved ahead when Dawson became the first Midshipman to return a punt for a touchdown since Phil McConkey in 1977.
Foley hit four of five passes for 67 yards, climaxed by an eight-yard toss to tight end Mark Chmura, in a 67-yard, eight-play drive that overcame two illegal-procedure penalties.
Following an exchange of interceptions, Navy drove 37 yards to take a 17-14 lead, Grizzard hitting flanker Rob Holmberg with an 11-yard pass just two seconds before intermission.
In the second half, the Midshipmen lost not only the game but also Davis, their largest lineman, who went out with a shoulder injury. Linebacker Chris Beck, who intercepted a pass and made a key block on Dawson's punt return, also left with an injured ankle.