Navy unable to keep up with Hawaii

Madden's heroic effort isn't enough

Rainbows' QB throws for 530 yards

November 22, 1999|By Pat Bigold | Pat Bigold,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HONOLULU -- The script was there. Sophomore quarterback Brian Madden looked every inch a potential hero to Navy fans as he emerged from the runway at Aloha Stadium with 10 minutes to go Saturday night.

He'd come back, armed and ready, and there was plenty of turnaround time left. Dehydrated from running 39 plays in 73-degree heat, the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder had succumbed to cramps as he began the second half of Navy's 48-41 loss to Hawaii.

"I try to drink a lot of fluids, but I guess it caught up with me tonight," he said after the 3-hour, 47-minute ordeal that left Navy 4-7.

While he was hooked to an IV in the bowels of the stadium, being rocked by a crowd of 39,554, Hawaii had boosted its 27-24 halftime lead to 41-27. Backup quarterback Ed Malinowski had also gone down with an injury after conducting a drive for a field goal, and now emergency QB Steve Holley was trying in vain to rally the Mids.

With 99 rushing yards, a 33-yard touchdown run and a 24-yard touchdown pass to Travis Williams, Madden had been a menace to the Rainbows' defense all night until his surprise departure. He left the game after a 7-yard scramble to the Navy 33 to start the third quarter.

Madden's star was on the rise at Annapolis, having led the Mids to victory over Rutgers and Tulane the past two weekends. At of the end of the first half, he had seven touchdown runs in 3 1/2 games.

Then, seemingly just in the nick of time, there he was. He trotted out to resume control of the team after linebacker Ryan Hamilton recovered Avion Weaver's fumble at the Hawaii 21. Madden triggered the comeback by running left for 1 yard, then in traffic up the middle for 11, and left again for 3. He finished a 1: 33 drive by giving the ball to bruising sophomore fullback Raheem Lambert, who rumbled 6 yards into the end zone. The point by Tim Shubzda cut the Hawaii lead to seven.

Within 32 seconds, Madden was back on the field as the Rainbows' school-record-breaking quarterback, Dan Robinson (530 passing yards), fumbled at his own 16. Madden rushed for 3, 12 and 1 yards en route to the end zone for the second time in just over a minute. Shubzda kicked to tie it with 7: 23 left, and Hawaii fans wondered if they'd see their second overtime in two weekends. The Rainbows (8-3) won a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship on Nov. 13 with a nail-biting 31-24 win here over Fresno State.

But Robinson executed the run-and-shoot to perfection on Hawaii's next possession, completing five of seven passes on a 70-yard drive, including a 26-yard strike to Dwight Carter in the left corner of the end zone that put the Rainbows ahead to stay.

Carter, who set a school record for most receiving yards in a season (1,149), hauled in three receptions for 53 yards in the drive. But Madden wasn't done. After Rainbows kicker Chad Shrout put the ball in the end zone, Madden combined with Lambert (18 carries for 120 yards) to push Hawaii back 52 yards back to its own 28.

With momentum clearly on his side, it looked like Madden might quickly devour the remaining yardage with effective option runs and go for a game-winning conversion rush. He'd given the ball to Lambert on the conversion when Navy retook the lead, 24-17, with 4: 42 left in the first half. But Madden decided to throw for the end zone with 36 seconds left (his 11th pass attempt of the game), and Quincy LeJay picked it off (his team-leading sixth interception of season) at the 6 and returned it to the 48. Robinson took a knee as the clock ran out.

"I just laid it up there," said a despondent Madden (29 carries for 150 yards), who became the first Navy quarterback to gain 100 or more yards in four straight games. "You can't make mistakes and play QB for this team."

It was the sixth time this season that Navy has lost by just a touchdown or less. And 41 points were the most the Mids have scored in defeat.

"We've got to learn to win the close football games," Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "We can't afford to be in that situation and give them the ball."

Besides the interception, Navy fumbled twice.

"We didn't expect [Hawaii] to move the ball like they did," Weatherbie said. "The way they played defense kind of plays into the hands of passing teams," said Hawaii coach June Jones, who coached the San Diego Chargers last season. "Tulane didn't do a very good job of throwing the ball against them last week. I felt [Navy] was going to come in thinking that's the way to play us. But if you play a lot of three-deep on us, it's going to be a long day."

Weatherbie said Robinson was protected well. The improved pass rush of the Mids (33 sacks this season) couldn't do much.

"We couldn't get to him," Weatherbie said. "They were doing a great job of holding us."

Navy came here without its leading tackler, junior free safety Chris Lepore (120 tackles, two sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery and three forced fumbles). Lepore is reportedly suffering from a case of turf toe.

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