Navy plumbs depths: 70-7 loss

No. 10 Georgia Tech hands Mids worst defeat in history

September 09, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The disparity between the talent at Top 25 schools and that at the service academies was never more apparent than yesterday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Hopeful of giving 10th-ranked Georgia Tech a serious go in its home opener, Navy instead suffered its worst defeat in 121 years of varsity football, 70-7.

The margin overtook the 56-point loss the Midshipmen absorbed at Michigan on Sept. 25, 1976. Yellow Jackets freshman quarterback Damarius Bilbo all but sealed the record when he ran a 6-yard bootleg into the end zone for the final touchdown with 32 seconds remaining in the game.

Luke Manget followed with his 10th consecutive extra point of the game and 107th overall to extend the Atlantic Coast Conference record he set earlier this season, supplanting Maryland's Jess Atkinson.

There wasn't much analysis needed after this one. Georgia Tech (3-0) was bigger, stronger, faster and better, executing its offensive and defensive plans with surprising ease.

The Yellow Jackets scored touchdowns on their first five possessions and tossed in a defensive score for a 42-0 cushion at halftime. Navy committed three turnovers and compiled 63 net yards in the same span.

"I think we dug ourselves into a hole early and had a hard time getting out of it," said Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie. "We can't afford to turn the ball over as many times and have a chance against a team like that. They deserve to be ranked in the top 10."

Most of the Yellow Jackets' first-stringers were virtually through by halftime, although they were individually rotated in at times. Quarterback George Godsey retired for the day after a 66-yard touchdown pass to Kerry Watkins pushed the lead to 42-0.

Backup quarterback Andy Hall was almost as effective after Manget missed a 28-yard field-goal attempt following Hall's first series.

Under Hall, the Yellow Jackets scored on three of their first four second-half drives, with freshman tailback Jimmy Dixon slashing in from 2 yards on the first play of the fourth period, making it 63-0.

A fly pattern run by another freshman, Levon Thomas, resulted in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Hall, the first career TD for both players. It also caused some concern that Tech was running up the margin for the pollsters.

"What goes around, comes around," was Weatherbie's answer to the pass with the game decided.

Georgia Tech coach George O'Leary said he "tried to do the right thing and run the ball. We played everybody. We have other players who need to play and get better."

Any thoughts that the Yellow Jackets might be caught looking ahead to next week's ACC showdown at Florida State were quickly dispelled when Tech shot to a 21-0 lead and a 182-24 advantage in yardage.

"This was a coaches' game," said O'Leary, "because we were trying to keep their minds on this game."

For the Mids, it was their 31st straight defeat at the hands of a ranked opponent. Navy's last victory in that situation came against No. 20 Virginia on Sept. 20, 1985.

Navy avoided the shutout by marching 47 yards to a 1-yard plunge by Raheem Lambert with 3:38 remaining in the game. It marked the third straight time the Yellow Jackets have allowed just one touchdown in a game this season.

Georgia Tech has won 10 of its past 11, losing only in the Peach Bowl to Louisiana State.

To find positives for Navy was groping. Weatherbie managed, mentioning the fact that the defense forced Tech to punt twice in the second half and the offense finally scored after not even threatening to cross the 50 most of the game.

During its 0-2 start, Navy has been outscored 59-6 in the first half.

"It's a long season still," said quarterback Ed Malinowski. "We've still got nine more to go. There's no reason to hang our heads. We know we're better than a 63-point loss."

And now all Navy has to do is prepare for a trip to 16th-ranked Northwestern. The road is long, with many a treacherous turn.

Next for Navy

Opponent: No. 16 Northwestern

Site: Ryan Field, Evanston, Ill.

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

Record: 1-0

Yesterday: Idle

Navy's worst

Yesterday's loss to Georgia Tech was the largest margin of defeat in Navy football history, which dates to 1879. The top five:

Pts. ..... Opponent ..... Year ....... Score

63 ........ Ga. Tech ...... 2001 ......... 70-7

56 ........ Michigan ...... 1976 .......... 70-14

54 ........ Michigan ...... 1925 .......... 54-0

53 ........ Penn St. ....... 1971 .......... 56-3

53 ........ Virginia ......... 1972 .......... 53-0

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