Navy changes its course with Broadwater at helm Comeback win last week secures starting job

October 23, 1998|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

There is no quarterback controversy at the Naval Academy.

Brian Broadwater is Numero Uno, The Man, the Chosen One to reverse the fortunes of the Midshipmen (2-4), who face host Boston College tomorrow.

After playing a supporting role the first five games to junior Steve Holley, Broadwater, a sophomore from Elizabethtown, N.J., made the most of his first start before a homecoming crowd in Annapolis on Saturday, leading the Mids to an exhilarating, come-from-behind, 42-35 victory over Colgate.

He ran for 216 yards, including the winning 61-yard touchdown with 1: 01 left, and completed eight of nine passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

When a reporter asked Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie after the game if he needed time to choose between Holley, who is nursing a sore left shoulder, and Broadwater, the coach smiled and said: "I don't have a tough decision to make: It's Broadwater."

The sudden emergence of Broadwater almost mirrors that of Chris McCoy, who set 18 academy records in his three seasons of directing the Navy offense.

McCoy, a quarterback in high school, was shifted to defensive back at Navy Prep School and played the same position for the JV as a plebe. When Weatherbie took over in 1995, McCoy asked to audition for quarterback. He won the starting job and rushed for a record 273 yards in his debut against SMU, and the rest is history.

Broadwater has followed a similar path. Doubling as a quarterback and defensive back, he led Lower Dauphin High to the Eastern State final his senior year. But at Navy Prep, he played just about every position but quarterback.

His role changed dramatically after preseason practices last year.

"In the early fall, we have the whole team splitting time between offense and defense," said Weatherbie. "We put them through all kinds of drills, running, catching and passing, and that's where Broadwater caught our eye."

Broadwater directed the JV to a 6-2 record last year. He was expected to challenge Holley for the starting job this fall, but fractured his ankle in the first spring scrimmage.

Now the roles are reversed, and Broadwater appears to have gained strong support from his coaches off his impressive debut.

"Brian has a lot of McCoy in him," said offensive coordinator Ken Niumatololo. "He can turn a broken play into big yardage.

"We knew he was a good athlete after he did a great job for the JVs. This spring, he just fell way behind Holley because of his injury, and he's been playing catch-up.

"But he showed a lot of poise and leadership against Colgate, especially being down 35-21."

Said Broadwater, who led scoring drives of 92, 54 and 99 yards in the last quarter: "It's a lot easier mentally knowing you're going to start, that you're the man in the huddle from the beginning and you need to step up and show leadership."

Navy almost missed out on its new offensive leader. In his senior year in high school, Broadwater was recruited by Patriot League colleges and opted to go to nearby Bucknell, a Division I-AA school.

"I orally committed to Bucknell and coach Tom Gadd, but changed my mind when Navy called," he said.

Now, Broadwater has to prove his auspicious start was no fluke.

"There are different types of leaders," said Weatherbie. "Brian can be boisterous in a huddle, but he's more like a guy who says, 'Follow me!' "

So far, his Navy teammates are right in step.

Pub Date: 10/23/98

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