Rutgers' late score brings comeback run of Navy to halt, 36-33 Mids had rebounded twice to take lead in 4th quarter

November 08, 1998|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,SUN STAFF

Navy's Cardiac Kids ran out of storybook endings at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium yesterday, rallying twice to take the lead in the fourth quarter only to see Rutgers persevere, 36-33, on a 3-yard keeper by sophomore quarterback Mike McMahon with 1: 18 remaining.

The Midshipmen (3-5), who lost any hope of a postseason bowl bid, had staged dramatic comebacks to beat Colgate and Boston College in their previous two games.

They again had a final opportunity to win or force an overtime after taking over on their 39 with 1: 13 to play and all three timeouts left.

Surprisingly, Navy chose to run the ball three straight times, advancing to the Rutgers' 49. On third-and-seven with 19 seconds left, Brian Broadwater dropped back to pass, but was blindsided by outside linebacker Dax Strohmeyer, who recovered the fumble on the Navy 46.

It was the third lost fumble of the day for Broadwater, who had triggered Navy's previous two comeback victories. Although he rushed for 132 yards on 29 carries, the sophomore quarterback took the blame for this crushing loss.

"It was all my fault," he said. "We can't turn the ball over three times and expect to win. We had a chance to make a real run at a bowl game. That's why this was such a big setback."

Rutgers, an 11-point underdog, appears headed in the opposite direction. After losing 14 straight games, the Scarlet Knights are 5-4 with a shot at their first winning season since 1992.

Employing coach Terry Shea's intricate West Coast offense, the Knights enjoyed almost equal success running and passing in rolling up 442 total yards.

Seldom under pressure, McMahon riddled Navy's porous secondary for 243 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. His favorite target was senior flanker Bill Powell with eight receptions for 152 yards.

The Navy defense was just as ineffective trying to stop junior running back Jacki Crooks, who repeatedly broke tackles to gain a career-high 189 yards on 31 carries.

Despite all this record-breaking by the Rutgers offense, the Mids, who rushed for 333 yards, still appeared on the verge of performing another stunning comeback.

A 49-yard run by senior slotback Jason Wolf triggered an 80-yard scoring march early in the fourth quarter. Manny Metcalf took a pitch and circled right end for 8 yards to give Navy a 26-22 lead with 12: 20 remaining.

Rutgers came right back to reclaim the lead, 29-26, on a 65-yard drive. Crooks broke loose for 34 yards to the Navy 31. Four plays later, on third-and-13 from the 24, McMahon rifled a touchdown pass in the end zone to tight end Chris Hutton, who managed to find space between three defenders.

Again, Navy rallied to move ahead, 33-29, with a 64-yard march capped by Broadwater's 8-yard keeper. The Mids benefited from a 30-yard penalty against Shea's son, junior cornerback Garrett Shea, who was called for both pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct.

But the celebration by the crowd of 26,508 was short-lived, with the combination of McMahon and Crooks too potent for Navy's (( generous defense.

In retrospect, a personal-best 51-yard field goal by Rutgers place-kicker Steve Barone in the third quarter proved to be the difference. Barone had missed two earlier attempts from 53 yards out with a strong wind behind him.

This time, Navy declined a 5-yard delay-of game penalty that would have pushed Rutgers back to the 39, most likely forcing a punt. Given another chance, Barone cleared the crossbar with ease.

Now the only major goal remaining for Navy is to finish with a winning season by sweeping its last three games -- a tall order with No. 13-ranked Notre Dame (7-1) coming up Saturday at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Landover.

"We'll have to shock the world," said junior safety Jamie Doffermyre, the defensive stalwart who was credited with 11 tackles and two sacks. "That's what we have to do."

Next for Navy

Opponent: No. 13 Notre Dame

Site: Jack Kent Cooke Stadium, Landover

When: Saturday, 3: 30 p.m.

Record: 7-1

6* Yesterday: Beat Boston College, 31-26.

Pub Date: 11/08/98

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