ANNAPOLIS -- A word of advice to the Naval Academy: Don't schedule James Madison for homecoming anymore. Maybe the Middies should try a Division II team next season.
For the second straight year, the Division I-AA Dukes handed Navy a humbling, if not humiliating, defeat before 29,129 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
"I think James Madison's the worst thing to happen to Navy since Pearl Harbor," Dukes coach Joe Purzycki said after yesterday's 16-7 victory.
Allow Purzycki his moment of tasteless overstatement. But he and his players were going to savor this one, especially after some of the comments they heard during the past week about last year's game.
"All you heard from Navy was how they were embarrassed about last year," said Purzycki, alluding to a 24-20 victory. "If you say you're embarrassed, there's a connotation that you don't respect your opponent."
Navy (3-4) certainly respects James Madison (5-3) now. The Middies did a good job of slowing down fullback Willie Lanier, but they could handle quarterback Eriq Williams or JMU's pass rush.
Lanier was held to 11 yards on eight carries -- he did score on
two short runs -- but Williams passed for a career-high 174 yards. The Dukes sacked Navy's Alton Grizzard and Gary McIntosh a total of nine times.
"It's a simple game broken down to fundamentals," first-year Navy coach George Chaump said after what undoubtedly was his worst defeat since coming from Marshall. "You have to block on offense and tackle on defense."
The Middies tackled a lot better than they blocked, but they had enough breakdowns defensively to allow the Dukes to jump to a 9-0, first-quarter lead on a 2-yard run by Lanier and a 29-yard field goal by Mike Granuzzo.
The only sustained drive by Navy began late in the opening quarter. Starting from their 23, the Middies drove 77 yards in 16 plays with Grizzard hitting flanker Jerry Dawson for a touchdown on a third-and-goal at the JMU 3.
"I don't think there was any doubt that we could score some points," said Dawson, who caught the ball reaching back on his hip and took a hit from two JMU defenders, "but we didn't execute as a team."
If anything, the Middies self-destructed. Not with turnovers, which has been the case most of this season, but the offensive line proved to be a welcome mat for the Dukes, who seemed to have clear shots at Grizzard and McIntosh all day.
Offensively, JMU didn't run over Navy as it did in gaining 33 yards on the ground last year, but Williams converted several key third-down passes, including two during a 64-yard drive that ended with a1-yard touchdown run by Lanier midway through the third quarter.
"They were so concerned with stopping me that they forgot about the rest of our offense," said Lanier, who ran for 114 yards last year.
Purzycki admitted that he got a tad conservative with his offense after taking the 16-7 lead, but Navy never took advantage. The Middies were also hurt by a late flag, which negated a brilliant punt return by Jason Van Matre early in the fourth quarter.
Following Bob Kuberski's sack of Williams that forced the Dukes to punt from their end zone, Van Matre took the kick and raced to the JMU 20-yard line. But a clipping penalty at the spot where Van Matre fielded the punt, which was ignored by one official and called by another, moved the ball back to Navy 34.
"I think that kind of took the wind out of them," said Lanier.
A late change from Grizzard to McIntosh didn't wake up the Middies' offense or slow down the Dukes. Frank Schenk missed a 46-yard field-goal attempt with a little over two minutes remaining and, essentially, Navy was done. It was certainly not a pretty sight.
Nor is this a encouraging thought: Navy must play third-ranked Notre Dame Saturday at Giants Stadium. Yesterday's defeat was a revelation for Chaump, whose team until yesterday had not lost to a Division IAA opponent.
Asked how far the Middies have to go, Chaump said, "Farther than I ever thought. A game like this makes you realize that it takes a major effort to get Navy where it should be."