Navy ends 10-game skid with shutout

October 16, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

The Naval Academy football team broke a 10-game losing streak yesterday, but just barely, holding off Division I-AA Lafayette College, 7-0, before 20,511 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The Midshipmen (1-5) accounted for all the scoring with a nine-play, 82-yard drive late in the first quarter, climaxed by freshman tailback Pat McGrew's 13-yard run. Ryan Bucchianeri kicked the extra point.

Navy coach George Chaump acknowledged a sense of relief in posting his first victory since beating Colgate, another Division I-AA school, exactly a year ago.

But Chaump voiced concern and dissatisfaction with his stuttering offense, which was held to 211 total yards by the Leopards (0-6). Navy managed just 34 yards and two first downs in the second half.

"I don't like to take the luster off any victory, but that was as bad an offense as I've seen," said Chaump, in his fifth year at Navy.

"We've got to improve our pass blocking. I'm sick of seeing my quarterback getting sacked and our offense going backwards."

Chaump's primary concern was senior quarterback Jim Kubiak, who holds the Navy record for career passing yardage. Kubiak was under heavy pressure all afternoon. He completed 17 of 31 passes for 170 yards but was sacked five times for 40 yards, including three by end Harrison Bailey, who tied a school record for sacks (14).

After Kubiak took a shot to the ribs in the third quarter, Chaump turned ultra-conservative, just trying to take time off the clock and relying on his defense to preserve the lead.

"I'd rather run and punt than risk getting Kubiak hurt," he said.

With both coaches playing it close to the vest, the game became a tranquilizing defensive struggle that featured 22 punts, 11 by each side.

It took a reversal of form by the Navy defense, which had given up an average of 50.4 points in the first five games to avert what would have been a loss to Lafayette, winless in its past eight games and off to its worst start since 1952, when it began the season 0-9.

The Leopards wasted several excellent opportunities to win or tie in the second half. They were stymied by the continued ineffectiveness of redshirt freshman quarterback Shawn McHale and junior Mike Talerico, who played briefly in relief. Neither sustained a drive, enabling Navy to record its first shutout since defeating Dartmouth, 45-0, in 1986.

"I feel sick for my defensive unit," said Lafayette coach Bill Russo. "They played 60 minutes of great football. But we couldn't do anything offensively to give us a chance to win this game. Our quarterbacks just haven't got the job done, or made the big play to get us into the end zone."

Talerico, who lost his starting job to McHale early this season while nursing a sore elbow, had the first opportunity to tie the game late in the third quarter after Damon Dixon fumbled a punt and Lafayette's Brian Gallis recovered on the Navy 32.

After drawing an offside penalty, the Leopards moved the ball on three plays to the 31, but Jason McLaughlin missed a 48-yard field-goal try.

McHale had two chances in the fourth quarter.

First, he used the strong running of record-holding senior tailback Erik Marsh (26 carries, 100 yards) to move the ball from the Lafayette 22 to the Navy 24.

But Marsh, who has gained 4,087 career yards, was stopped for no gain on first down, and, after a 5-yard offside penalty, McHale threw two incompletions. Gambling on fourth-and-15, McHale was tossed by tackle Tom Neville for a 10-yard loss.

McHale's final chance came with 4:38 remaining, when Lafayette took over on its 31. Four completions pushed the ball to the Navy 25.

On third down, McHale spotted Jarrett Shine open at the 16, but the junior flanker dropped the ball. With one last chance, McHale missed Tramont Evans on a slant pattern, and Navy ran out the final 76 seconds.

NEXT FOR NAVY

Who: Louisville.

When: Saturday, at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.

Record: 3-3.

Yesterday: Lost to Army, 30-29.

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