TOLEDO, OHIO, NOV. 10 -- The University of Toledo's game-long celebration of its glistening, renovated stadium was nearly complete tonight when Navy did something shocking: It sneaked up and won the game.
With 30 seconds remaining in a slumbering game that suddenly turned exciting, Midshipman Jason Pace scored his second touchdown of the day, a five-yard reception from quarterback Alton Grizzard, to defeat the Rockets, 14-10, before 23,958 in the Glass Bowl.
Navy scored its touchdowns in the last 10 minutes when it junked the wishbone and went to the I-formation and a furious passing attack. Nearly half (134) of Navy's 274 total yards came in those two touchdown drives.
"I told the players, 'We've had enough time messing around,' " said Navy Coach George Chaump. " 'Let's just wing it and see what happens.' "
Navy, coming off an encouraging 52-31 loss to Notre Dame, moved to 4-5 and ensured itself of its best season since 1985 (4-7) with games remaining against Delaware and Army. Mid-American Conference co-champion Toledo (8-2) watched its minor bowl hopes disappear with one game remaining, against Arkansas State here next week.
The Rockets took a 10-0 lead on Rusty Hanna's 34-yard field goal with 2:21 remaining in the first quarter and David Andrews's six-yard reverse with 11:42 left in the third quarter.
Toledo likely would have had as many as three more scores were it not for one-man Navy wrecking crew Bill Yancey, a cornerback from Landon High School who intercepted Toledo quarterback Kevin Meger three times, twice inside the Navy 15. Yancey also caught Rockets running back Neil Trotter from behind after a 66-yard gain to save a touchdown with little more than four minutes to play.
"There were a lot of dramatic things at the end that you don't expect to see in a football game," Chaump said.
Navy finally came to life in the fourth quarter when, after switching from the wishbone that worked so well against Notre Dame, Pace picked his way nine yards for a touchdown with 9:48 remaining to bring the Midshipmen within 10-7.
The Rockets could not move the ball on their next possession and punted, giving Navy the ball at its 36 with 6:26 remaining. The Midshipmen appeared to reach the Toledo 24 two plays later on a long reception by Pace, but the play was called back due to illegal procedure, and Navy soon punted.
The Rockets, with the ball and the lead with 4:15 to go, watched Trotter, a senior who gained 157 yards on 27 carries, race 66 yards along the right sideline to the 17. Thinking about protecting the ball rather than scoring, Trotter was slowed enough to be dragged down by Yancey.
"I thought that was the right thing to do," said Trotter.
"It's my job to get to him, and I did," said Yancey.
"We just never gave up and we caught him," said Chaump.
The importance of Yancey's tackle became clear less than two minutes later when the Rockets, stymied at the Navy 25 after a clipping penalty, watched Hanna leave a 42-yard field goal attempt very short. Navy had the ball at its 25 with 2:21 to play.
Soon it was third down and four at the 31 with 1:31 to play. Grizzard told wide receiver B.J. Mason to run a corner route, but when the defense didn't cooperate Mason took off along the left sideline, and Grizzard saw it, firing a pass deep into his arms. Mason stepped out of bounds at the Toledo 24 for a 45-yard gain.
Another pass to Mason, this one 10 yards, and a roughing the passer penalty put the ball at the seven. Two plays later, Grizzard found Pace wide open for the winning touchdown.
Toledo's last-gasp try was stopped by -- who else? -- Yancey. His third interception of the game at midfield moments later ended it.
"They were wearing down a little bit at the end," said Pace. "We finally got to them."
What got to Toledo, said first-year coach Nick Saban, was the changing offenses.
"They limited us by shifting their formations and the multiple types of offenses they ran," he said.
In the first half, Toledo had its opportunities while Navy was just plain frustrated, Mason said.
"There were things we knew we should do, but we missed little points of execution," he said. "To us, it didn't seem like the game totally reversed itself. We just started making those little points of execution."
Still, the fireworks display at halftime, in honor of the dedication of the $18-million Glass Bowl complex, outshined anything that happened in the game to that point.
Navy played this game without regular kicker Frank Schenk, who was at his father's funeral. Two reserves handled kickoffs and extra points -- junior Tom Frosch and freshman Dave Gwinn -- and Chaump did not try any field goals.
The Midshipmen also lost the left side of their offensive line during the game when tackle Michael Davis and guard Dan Dunaway sprained ankles. The injuries were not believed serious.