McClarin uses `club' to steer defense

Linebacker makes big hit with padding on hurt hand

Navy notebook

College Football

October 05, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

LANDOVER - In the afterglow of the biggest victory of his collegiate career, Navy junior outside linebacker Bobby McClarin could joke about the makeshift club that functions as his damaged left hand.

"Fly to the ball. That's all I do," said McClarin, who finished with a career-high 10 tackles, including three for losses. "The club came in handy."

The club is protecting McClarin as his hand heals. He said it consists of a boxing glove, covered by melted plastic, a half-inch layer of foam and lots of tape.

The Midshipmen upset Air Force, 28-25, with toughness as much as anything yesterday at FedEx Field. They rolled up 294 rushing yards and did it mostly between the tackles, despite being forced to make two shifts in the interior offensive line. Right guard Shane Todd moved back to his old position to replace injured center August Roitsch, and senior Sean Magee made his first career start at right guard.

McClarin stood out the most. After breaking his hand in the preseason, then aggravating it in the season opener against Virginia Military Institute, he sat out three games. Then, after senior Ben Mathews was kept out of yesterday's game with a sprained right knee he suffered during pre-game warm-ups before last week's 48-27 loss at Rutgers, McClarin was cleared to play.

Did McClarin ever show up, oversized bandage and all.

He personally foiled Air Force's second drive, first by tripping up running back Darnell Stephens at the Navy 8 for a 3-yard loss, then by breaking up a pass intended for tight end Adam Strecker in the end zone on the next play. That forced Air Force to settle for a 26-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.

McClarin was there again at the end, forcing Air Force to spend valuable time while scoring its last touchdown. On second-and-goal at the Navy 2, he knocked Stephens out of bounds for a 2-yard loss. On the next play, he and inside linebacker Lane Jackson drilled Air Force quarterback Chance Harridge after a 3-yard gain to the one.

"[McClarin] was all over the place, from batting down passes with his club to taking on people outside on the option to flying around and taking on blockers," Navy coach Paul Johnson said.

Freshman start

Freshman David Mahoney made his first career start at outside linebacker, which allowed Lane Jackson to move inside, and Mahoney responded with 11 tackles. Jackson finished with 12. Mahoney is the first freshman to start on defense since Shalimar Brazier started the 2000 Army-Navy game.

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