Mids shut down, lose opener Early 11-point lead evaporates as Deacons storm back, win, 26-14

September 11, 1998|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Chapter 1 of Navy Faces College Football Life Without Chris McCoy opened last night to mixed reviews, most of them bad.

Off to an 11-point lead in the first 20 minutes of play against a seemingly bewildered Wake Forest team, the Mids stopped moving the ball almost totally and fell easy prey to sharp-shooting quarterback Brian Kuklick and bowed, 26-14.

Had Kuklick not thrown three interceptions, two of them in the Navy end zone, it could have been a rout.

Kuklick finished with his 12th 250-plus yard passing performance (256) with 21 completions in 36 attempts.

Navy mustered just 59 yards on offense in the second half.

Kuklick's passing loosened the Navy defense, allowing his backs to rush for 148 yards. Morgan Kane gained 94 as the Deacons ran 75 plays to Navy's 64 and out-gained the Mids, 404-352.

Not a bad turnaround from just five days before when Wake Forest was smothered by Air Force, 42-0. Deacons coach Jim Caldwell had said Navy's offense would be more difficult to stop than the Falcons'.

"We didn't help ourselves with penalties and turnovers," Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "Another one of our problems was having our defense out on the field so long. We had a lot of three-and-outs. That's the reason I brought [backup] Brian Broadwater in for Steve Holley at quarterback a couple of series into the third period. We just weren't moving the ball and, I think, Brian has some [attributes] maybe Steve doesn't. I think both of them are good enough to start for this team."

Caldwell was pleased. "It was a case of us not missing the tackles we missed in the Air Force game," he said. "And when we got them to the point where they had to throw the ball, we were happy."

Wake Forest took more than a quarter to get organized as Navy took the 14-3 lead.

But midway through the third period, Wake Forest took control when Kane scored from 2 yards out.

The Deacons had to travel just 30 yards for their go-ahead score as Navy was forced to punt from its end zone and the return was for 15 yards.

Wide receiver Desmond Clark, on the way to becoming the No. 5 career receiver in ACC history with 170 receptions, had nine catches, including a 24-yard pass from Kuklick to set up the Kane touchdown.

Kuklick had a second pass intercepted in the end zone to keep Navy close, but this just delayed the inevitable. Wake Forest drove 74 yards on 13 plays, most of them short flips from Kuklick to Clark and Jammie Deese, who had eight catches. Kito Gary burst up the middle untouched from the 14 for the touchdown.

Kicker Matt Burdick added a personal best 48-yard field goal with three minutes remaining to conclude the scoring.

The Wake Forest special teams, which were woeful while giving up 21 points in a season-opening loss to Air Force, got the Mids started in the first quarter with another mistake.

Forced to punt from its 22 after its first possession, Navy got the break when a Wake Forest rusher ran into punter Tray Calish for a penalty.

The Mids immediately took control. They moved 88 yards in 10 plays, with the help of a 39-yard pass play from Steve Holley to Mark Mill. Holley, who replaced the versatile McCoy at quarterback, scored from 5 yards out at the 9: 28 mark.

The Demon Deacons, who had started by going three plays and a punt, ran just four plays before punting again.

They finally got untracked with Burdick kicking a field goal from 41 yards to make it 7-3.

The Mids then awoke. They covered 63 yards in just six plays to assume a 14-3 advantage.

Next for Navy

Opponent: Kent

Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium

When: Sept. 19, 7 p.m.

Record: 0-1

Tomorrow: Vs. Youngstown State

Pub Date: 9/11/98

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