ANNAPOLIS -- Eight days after becoming Navy's all-time offensive leader, Alton Grizzard soon may be facing the prospect of watching the start of a game from the sidelines.
That possibility increased yesterday, as Grizzard was responsible for six Navy turnovers -- three of which resulted in Boston College touchdowns -- as the Eagles rallied to beat the Midshipmen, 28-17, before 25,551 yesterday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Under a constant pass rush, Grizzard threw a career-high five interceptions and fumbled once, as Navy (2-2) lost at home for the first time this season. Boston College (1-2) had lost to Pittsburgh and Ohio State and had not scored an offensive touchdown this season before yesterday.
"Turnovers killed us," said Navy coach George Chaump. "We just self-destructed. We're just not getting the result with the passing game that we should be getting with the emphasis we place on it.
"I think we have to analyze what went wrong and move to do anything necessary to improve our team -- and that includes making changes," he said. Asked whether that included changes at quarterback, Chaump said: "I rule out no changes. I'll change anybody, anywhere."
Passing teams have been Chaump's style in his eight previous seasons as a college head coach, but yesterday showed just how difficult it has been to change Navy from its wishbone attack of a year ago. Grizzard, who threw for a career-high 258 yards and three touchdowns in the season-opening win over Richmond, completed just 11 of 29 passes for 133 yards against the Eagles. Against Villanova last week, he completed 12 of 25 passes for 88 yards.
"He's a better passer then he has shown. He throws better in practice," Chaump said after watching his offense held scoreless and shut down completely in the second half. "For some reason, he just can't hit it in the game. That's a big problem."
The Midshipmen seemed to have the momentum at halftime, as Grizzard lofted a a 11-yard touchdown pass to Robert Holmberg in the corner of the end zone with two seconds left in the half to give Navy a 17-14 lead. But that momentum was lost early in the second half as a poorly underthrown pass by Grizzard on Navy's first possession resulted in his third interception of the day.
Nine plays later, Boston College redshirt freshman quarterback Glenn Foley (16 completions in 26 attempts for 223 yards and three touchdowns) found flanker Ray Hilvert for a 17-yard go-ahead touchdown pass with 8 minutes, 20 seconds left in the third quarter to help Boston College to a 21-17 lead.
Grizzard was intercepted a fourth time by linebacker Matt Kelley on Navy's next series, and later in the third quarter he fumbled on his 5-yard line. Boston College tailback Tim Frager (23 carries, 99 yards) scored on the next play to help Boston College to a 28-17 lead.
The Midshipmen, often looking confused on offense, crossed midfield just once the rest of the game, with sophomore linebacker Jason Pohopek (three interceptions) picking off Grizzard for the last time with 1:58 left in the game.
"This was ugly, but I don't care," said Eagles coach Jack Bicknell, whose job is rumored to be shaky after this year's 0-2 start. "We've been working so hard, and I just want the kids to relax and play with confidence. Maybe this win will do that."
It didn't do that for Navy, which barely beat two Division I-AA teams and still hasn't proved it can beat a team that is its equal.
"We feel Boston College is a bona fide I-A team and if we can cut down on our mistakes, we can play the I-A teams," Chaump said. "We can not self-destruct the way we are. We're not executing the passing game well enough."
One reason for a lack of execution has been the recent absence of Jerry Dawson, the senior wide receiver who caught three touchdown passes (six catches, 126 yards) from Grizzard in the Richmond win. Although he provided Navy's big highlight yesterday with a 68-yard punt return for the team's first touchdown, with 13:42 left in the first half, Dawson caught just three passes for 47 yards. He has just nine receptions since the first game.
"I think we're just facing better teams," Dawson said, "but there's no reason for us not to be able to pass the ball the way we'd like to. Boston College is a good team, but we should have beaten them."
Grizzard's poor performance puts Chaump in a tough position. He likes Grizzard's drive and desire but may have to bench his co-captain in favor of Gary McIntosh (a passing quarterback who quit the team at the start of the season but was reinstated after the Virginia game) or Brian Ellis, a sophomore who has yet to take a snap.
"If [Grizzard] wasn't such a great young man, I would be impatient and not stick with him for so long," said Chaump, adding that the coaches considered making a change in the second half but decided to stick with Grizzard. "I'm trying to give him his opportunities. I think he puts too much pressure on himself to do it all. He has to realize there are other people who can do it also."
Next for Navy is Air Force in Colorado Springs, a must win for the Midshipmen if they want to go to a bowl game (the academies have a tie-in with the Liberty Bowl). Chaump, who made some major changes last week (most notably moving starting tailback Rodney Purifoy to defensive back) said more may follow.
"We'll do anything. As a coach, you can't be stubborn," Chaump said. "Before I do anything radical we'll do a careful analysis of what happened. And we'll make a fair and right decision."
NOTES: Dawson's 68-yard punt return was Navy's first for a touchdown since 1977 when Phil McConkey returned a punt 67 yards for a score against Syracuse. The longest Navy punt return was a 82-yarder by Napoleon McCallum in 1982 against Virginia. . . . Grizzard's five interceptions were one short of the Navy record of six set by Tom Tarquinio against Notre Dame in 1982. Grizzard has been intercepted 10 times this season -- he was picked off nine times entering this year.