McCoy rushes Navy past Tulane, 35-21, on record 44 carries Win in final home game Mids' 6th over Div. I-A foe qualifies team for bowl bid

November 17, 1996|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

It was a highly emotional afternoon for junior quarterback Chris McCoy, playing the final home game of the season at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

"My grandmother, Maime Kindred, died this week," McCoy said. "She has always been a great inspiration to me. She always told me, 'No matter what happens, you've got to keep on going.' "

So McCoy kept going, going and going -- like the Energizer bunny -- and Tulane was incapable of stopping him.

By day's end, the Georgia native had carried a school-record 44 times for 214 yards and three touchdowns. He also passed for two more scores in a 35-21 victory that kept Navy's bowl hopes alive.

McCoy has totaled 1,130 yards this season, shattering his rushing mark for Navy quarterbacks.

Where McCoy left off, the Brigade of Midshipmen took over. A minute after the game, they joyously tore down the goal post at the north end of the stadium.

To outsiders, the celebration might seem premature since Navy has yet to clinch a bowl berth and has a road game with Georgia Tech and the season finale against archrival Army left on its schedule.

But consider what the Mids have accomplished.

They boosted their record to 7-2, the first time the Mids have won seven games since 1981.

A sixth victory over a Division I-A school qualified them for a bowl invitation.

They won all their home games (four), another feat last accomplished in 1981.

While the feeling persists that the Mids will not be playing in the postseason for the first time since 1981 unless they beat Georgia Tech on Saturday, it was not enough to dampen the enthusiasm for McCoy's brilliant performance.

He staked the Mids to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter with touchdown runs of 10 and 3 yards, with the second score set up by defensive back Rashad Smith's diving interception at the Tulane 26.

But McCoy was not perfect. His fumble on the Navy 15-yard line led to Tulane's first touchdown -- a 13-yard dash by fullback Jerald Sowell. And the Green Wave (2-8) silenced the crowd of 24,952 by leaving the field at halftime tied 14-14.

But Navy dominated the clock in the second half by simply turning the ball over to the elusive McCoy.

"We couldn't stop him," said Tulane coach Buddy Teevens, who is on the endangered list with a five-year record of 11-44. "We stopped other things, but not McCoy. He's a real good athlete, and it was his show in the second half."

McCoy put Navy back on top 21-14 early in the third quarter, capping an 11-play, 82-yard drive with a 28-yard pass to Ross Scott, who caught the ball in stride between two Tulane defenders.

"Give [offensive coordinator] Paul Johnson credit for that one," said head coach Charlie Weatherbie. "It was third-and-one, but Johnson saw their free safety coming up in the alley and decided it was a good time to try a pass."

But another Navy turnover kept the crowd in suspense. This time, a pass from McCoy was deflected and picked off by linebacker Don Johnson, who returned it to the Navy 34.

On third down, King found an open Sowell, who raced 25 yards down the sideline to the 1. Sowell plunged the final yard to tie it again at 21-21.

Navy, however, regained the lead late in the third quarter. Slotback Cory Schemm ran a backside post route to break free down the middle, and McCoy found him with a 42-yard spiral.

In the fourth quarter, when McCoy seemed to carry on every play, Navy wore down the Tulane defense. He capped a 14-play, 92-yard march that consumed 7 minutes, 24 seconds with a 1-yard keeper.

"If they don't take me, I run the ball," he said succinctly. "They were creating seams that gave me openings. On some teams, backs may complain about one guy getting all the carries. But my guys played their hearts out for me."

McCoy will leave the Academy on Tuesday night to attend his grandmother's funeral in Morris, Ga., then drive the two hours to Atlanta for the game against Georgia Tech.

Senior linebacker and team captain Clint Bruce summed it up: "Right now, that's our bowl game."

Next for Navy

Opponent: Georgia Tech

Site: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 5-4

Thursday: Lost at Maryland, 13-10

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