Navy bottles up Rutgers, takes 10-6 win in opener Mids' defense thwarts two fourth-quarter threats

September 08, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Navy's experienced offense had its problems last night, but the less-seasoned defense wasn't bothered by anything at Rutgers Stadium.

The Midshipmen stopped two fourth-quarter Rutgers threats cold and did enough with the ball themselves to win their season opener, 10-6, before 26,834 fans.

One smooth-working thrust -- when Navy took the second-half kickoff and drove 76 yards to the end zone in six plays -- was enough to hold off the Scarlet Knights, who had beaten Villanova, 38-28, in their opener last week.

The two biggest plays of the game occurred when Rutgers had possession.

With Navy ahead, 7-6, early in the fourth period, Rutgers went for a first down on fourth-and-inches from the Navy 41.

But 240-pound fullback Marc Demyen actually lost a few more inches of ground when confronted by Navy middle linebacker Travis Cooley and a couple of helpers.

"The scout team has been working our tails off against plays like that," said Cooley. "Actually, I was anticipating a [quarterback] sneak but I got good penetration and stopped it."

Said Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie: "Cooley got in the gap and hit him in the lips."

Following that stop, Navy marched to a 37-yard field goal by freshman Tim Shubzda to extend its lead to four points.

But the Scarlet Knights answered.

Mike Stephens, Rutgers' third quarterback of the game, completed three passes before a 32-yard draw play to Jacki Crooks carried Rutgers to the Navy 24. One play later, Stephens retreated to throw, but, with linebacker Clint Bruce in his face, threw an interception to Rashad Smith, virtually sealing the outcome.

"The defensive line put on great pressure and the quarterback kind of panicked and threw it up when I went into my zone," said Smith. "I just broke for it and went up."

Navy then killled the clock with the help of a 53-yard punt by Jason Covarrubias that pinned the Knights deep in their territory the only other time they had the ball.

After a dull first half during which Rutgers took a 3-0 lead on a 43-yard field goal by Nick Mick-Mayer, the Mids seized control behind quarterback Chris McCoy, who alternated all night with Ben Fay.

McCoy culminated the only touchdown drive of the game with a 15-yard cutback to the end zone, ending an advance in which he gained 37 yards and fullback Tim Cannada accounted for the other 39.

It was the first Navy victory over Rutgers since 1909. The Knights had gone 4-0-1 in their previous five meetings, including a 27-17 decision last year.

Navy ..... 0 .. 0 .. 7 .. 3 .. -- .. 10

6* Rutgers .. 0 .. 3 .. 3 .. 0 .. -- .. 6

Next for Navy

Opponent: Southern Methodist

Site: Ownby Stadium, Dallas

When: Sept. 21, 7 p.m.

Record: 2-0

0$ Yesterday: Beat Arkansas, 23-10.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

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