Finishing kick carries Navy past SMU, 19-17 Vanderhorst's 38-yard FG is winner for Midshipmen

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.

Vanderhorst, who had lost his job to freshman Tim Shubzda during fall practice, got the call after Shubzda missed from 36 and 37 yards earlier in the game.

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 expected a tougher test from Southern Methodist this season and got it, although the challenge was slow in developing.

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

Navy (2-0) routed SMU, 33-2, last year in Dallas, but this was clearly a better and healthier version of the Mustangs.

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 of chasing elusive Ramon Flanigan, the Mustangs quarterback directed scoring drives of 80 and 89 yards within five minutes.

Both drives culminated in touchdown passes to Kevin Thornal and Daniel Hernandez' second extra point put Navy behind for the first time, 17-16.

The victory was Navy's first in a home-opener against a Division I foe since 1986 and marked the first time the Midshipmen have been 2-0 against two Division I-A teams since 1974.

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 totally 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.

With the ball back at their 20, the Midshipmen used 13 plays to go the distance with Ben Fay replacing a tiring McCoy at the SMU 14.

Fay scored the TD on the first play of the second quarter, sneaking in from the 1 and Shubzda converted to increase the margin to 16-0.

The Mustangs' attack never got untracked as Navy's defense swarmed the quick sideline passes, harassed Flanigan into minus-53 yards rushing and, except for the big gainer to Johnson, prevented all the long plays.

Navy had the ball almost twice as long, did not commit a turnover in the half and was guilty of only one penalty.

McCoy rushed for an NCAA first-game record 273 yards in Dallas last year. He had 67 on 12 carries in the first half.

Collectively, SMU had minus-38 yards rushing and 62 passing while Navy rolled up 205 yards in total offense.

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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