Finishing kick carries Navy past SMU, 19-17 Vanderhorst's 38-yard FG on final play lifts 2-0 Mids

September 22, 1996|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Sophomore Tom Vanderhorst kicked a 38-yard field goal on the final play of the game to give Navy a heart-stopping 19-17 victory over Southern Methodist last night at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The field goal climaxed a 76-yard, 10-play drive directed by senior quarterback Ben Fay, who played in the shadow of Chris McCoy most of the night.

Fay completed three passes for 44 yards in the march, which started with 2: 46 left in the game.

Navy moved the ball to the Mustangs' 21-yard line and Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie signaled for his more experienced place-kicker instead of freshman Tim Shubzda, who had missed from 38 and 37 yards earlier in the game.

"I said if we got another opportunity I was going to give Vandy a chance to kick it," said Weatherbie. "He has proven himself in a big game [Army last year]."

Said Vanderhorst: "I just wanted to make it. I said a prayer, gave it to God and let Him do the work."

The last-second kick gave Navy a 2-0 record, its best start since 1988 and the first time the Midshipmen have opened with wins over two Division I-A teams since 1974.

Navy routed SMU, 33-2, last year in Dallas but this was clearly a better and healthier version of the Mustangs.

After dominating the first half for a 16-0 lead, the Midshipmen couldn't overcome their own second-half offensive woes, which included the two missed field goals. A late Mustangs charge left Navy behind, 17-16.

Held in check by a rigid Navy defense for two quarters and able to get only three points out of two early opportunities in the second half, SMU finally struck with its big-play offense.

With the Navy defense apparently tiring, Ramon Flanigan, the elusive Mustangs quarterback directed scoring drives of 80 and 89 yards within five minutes.

Both culminated in touchdown passes to Kevin Thornal, and Daniel Hernandez' second extra-point conversion put Navy behind for the first time.

But Navy was able to answer.

Fay said of the winning drive: "We're used to that situation. We're put through it a lot in practice."

The tenor of the game was established quickly when SMU center Keith Chiles snapped the ball over Flanigan's head and into the end zone for a Navy safety on the second play from scrimmage.

Armed with an immediate 2-0 lead, the Midshipmen controlled the first half.

In the first quarter, Navy reeled off 10 first downs while its defense was limiting the Mustangs to one.

The second time the Midshipmen had the ball, McCoy drove them to a touchdown. The series covered 70 yards in seven plays and consumed less than 2: 30.

The quarterback, better known for his sprint-out and option running, completed three passes along the way and climaxed the advance with a 10-yard cutback for the touchdown. Shubzda's extra point boosted Navy's lead to 9-0, only 5: 38 into the game.

After the defense bent, yielding a 47-yard passing bomb from Flanigan to Albert Johnson, Navy forced another punt by twice sacking Flanigan.

Starting at their own 20, the Midshipmen used 13 plays to go the distance, with Fay replacing a tiring McCoy at the SMU 14.

Fay scored the TD on the first play of the second quarter, #F sneaking in from the 1 and Shubzda converted to make the score 16-0.

Next for Navy

Opponent: Boston College

Site: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

When: Saturday, noon

Record: 1-2

Yesterday: Lost to No. 8 Michigan, 20-14.

Pub Date: 9/22/96

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