Tornadoes help blow some momentum, too Down 10-7, Mids dampened by delay

Navy notebook

November 22, 1992|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

HOUSTON -- To Navy linebacker Javier Zuluaga it was "intense." To running back Cleavon Smith it was "weird." No matter how you describe it, the weather had an effect on the participants in yesterday's game between Navy and Rice.

The fourth quarter was just beginning when the game was delayed because of tornadoes touching down in the vicinity of Rice Stadium. That came after a third quarter played in driving rain, heavy winds and lightning strikes very close to the field.

"I just thought the lights were blinking," Navy coach George Chaump said. "I'm afraid of lightning, I'm afraid of bolts. [Stopping the game] was the wisest thing to do."

Wise, yes. But unpopular with some Navy players, who felt momentum was on their side leading up to the delay. Rice led 10-7 when play was stopped in the Midshipmen's 27-22 loss.

"We really wanted to continue the game during the tornado because we were playing well," said Navy defensive back Steve Lipsey.

Tight end Kevin Hickman said it was the first time he had ever played under such conditions.

"I've never played in a tornado, I never played in a game where it rained this terribly," Hickman said. "The lightning, it seemed like people were taking pictures.

"The delay hurt us a bit," Hickman agreed. "We had the edge going, the momentum going. The delay didn't help us, as you can obviously see."

As he left the stadium, Navy fullback Smith could only shake his head about the events that unfolded. While players from both teams took refuge during the delay, hundreds of fans took to the field -- apparently not concerned about the weather -- and played an anything-goes brand of tackle football. "It was definitely the weirdest game," Smith said. "There was a little bit of everything."

Let it rain

This is the second time this season that weather forced the temporary suspension of a game at Rice Stadium. In the Owls' second game of the season, on Sept. 19, rain forced a 56-minute delay. Rice lost that game, 17-12.

Rare lead role

Navy's 7-3 lead in the first half was just its third lead of the season. Other leads came in the two-point loss to Air Force and the win over Tulane.

Zuluaga slowed

In the weekly tackle tally of Javier Zuluaga, the junior Navy linebacker had nine -- breaking an eight-game streak in which he had 10 tackles or more.

Ellis returns

Senior quarterback Brian Ellis, who hadn't played since the second game of the season when his jaw was broken against Boston College, made the trip and held on field goals and extra-point attempts. Ellis had been in uniform the previous week against Vanderbilt, which was Navy's last home game of the year.

Saving best for last

When Che' Bolden caught a 19-yard pass on Navy's third play from scrimmage, it was the first reception of his career. The senior wide receiver, from Seabrook, Texas, was a back-up last season, and as a sophomore played briefly in five games.

SWC blues

In losing, Navy is now 2-11 against Southwest Conference teams. Besides the 1-3 record against Rice, Navy is 0-1 against Houston, 1-5 against Southern Methodist and 0-2 against Texas.

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