Navy cooks Rice, 38-6, is now 5-2

Candeto-led 3-game streak is first by Mids since 1997

College Football

October 19, 2003|By Brian McTaggart | Brian McTaggart,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HOUSTON - Only minutes after yesterday's game against Rice, the jubilant Navy locker room was rocking. And for good reason.

Behind a tremendous performance from quarterback Craig Candeto, the Midshipmen improved to 5-2 by routing the Owls, 38-6, before 27,832 at Rice Stadium for Navy's first three-game winning streak since 1997.

Candeto rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 36 carries as the nation's top-ranked rushing attack amassed 366 yards on 69 carries. Navy held the overmatched Owls to a season-low 223 yards of total offense and no touchdowns.

"You've got to give our kids credit," Mids coach Paul Johnson said. "We're playing our butts off, working hard and coming to practice with a good attitude. That's the way a good football team should be, and now we expect to win."

Candeto finished 2 yards shy of his career high in rushing yards, a mark he had until he was stopped for a 3-yard loss on his final carry.

"The way [Rice] played the option is to try to beat our players outside," Candeto said. "The A-backs did a nice job of sealing the inside and getting me to the corner. I had a couple of decent runs and some scrambles when the middle opened up."

Navy dominated the line of scrimmage from the start, scoring touchdowns on all four of its first-half possessions to take a 28-6 lead at halftime. That stretched the Mids' string of consecutive scoring drives to nine (six TDs, three field goals), dating to the win over Vanderbilt.

"On offense, we like to say we want to score every time we touch the ball, and we did that in the first half," Candeto said.

Any slim hopes the Owls had of getting back into the game were dashed when Rice, after forcing Navy to punt early in the second half, drove deep into Navy territory early in the third quarter before turning the ball over on downs at the 17.

Navy's defense forced a pair of Rice turnovers on consecutive possessions early in the fourth quarter to help keep the game out of reach. That included the first collegiate interception of DuJuan Price, who picked off Rice quarterback Greg Henderson in his first Navy start.

The Mids followed a Henderson fumble on an errant pitch by getting a 45-yard field from Eric Rolfs with 7:29 left in the game. Aaron Polanco capped the scoring with an 8-yard run in the final minute.

"They took away some stuff outside and forced it inside in the second half and we had a hard time," Johnson said. "But as a good football team should do, our defense played great and it didn't matter."

Rice (1-5) took an early 3-0 lead on a 34-yard field goal by Brennan Landry, but the Mids responded with a pair of touchdowns in a little more than two minutes to take a 14-3 lead into the second quarter.

After Candeto ended a 66-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run on the option keeper, Eric Roberts (five carries, 93 yards) spun away from a pair of Rice tacklers and raced 69 yards to score on the first play of Navy's next possession.

"We were moving the ball right down the field every time we touched it," Candeto said.

The Owls cut the lead to 14-6 early in the second quarter on a 38-yard field goal by Landry, but the Mids responded with their best drive of the game. Navy chewed up more than eight minutes of the clock and moved 72 yards to take a 21-6 lead on Candeto's 1-yard touchdown run. Navy converted all five of its third-down attempts during the drive and was 13-for-19 on third down for the game.

"That's something we pride ourselves on," Candeto said.

Navy looked content to run out the clock on its final possession of the half, but instead was able to push Rice's porous defense down field for 84 yards. Candeto put the Mids ahead 28-6 just before the half with a 15-yard touchdown to Roberts.

"We were able to stop them and force them to kick field goals, and that's been our MO on defense the last couple of games," Johnson said. "Teams have moved the ball on us, but we bow up and hold them to field goals. We don't give them the big plays, and it gives you a chance when you do that."

Next for Navy

Matchup: Delaware (7-0) vs. Navy (5-2)

Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis

When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Radio: WJFK (1300 AM), WNAV (1430 AM)

Yesterday: Delaware beat Rhode Island, 55-10.

Summary

Navy 14 14 0 10 - 38

Rice 3 3 0 0 - 6 First quarter R-FG Landry 34, 10:32. N-Candeto 7 run (Rolfs kick), 6:22. N-Roberts 69 run (Rolfs kick), 4:12. Second quarter R-FG Landry 38, 12:41. N-Candeto 1 run (Rolfs kick), 4:19. N-Roberts 15 pass from Candeto (Rolfs kick), :16. Fourth quarter N-FG Rolfs 45, 7:29 N-Polanco 8 run (Rolfs kick), :19. A-27,832.

Navy Rice

First downs 22 14

Rushes-yards 69-366 47-206

Passing 76 17

Comp-Att-Int 6-10-0 6-14-1

Return Yards 87 45

Punts-Avg. 3-34.3 4-52

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 4-1

Penalties-Yards 3-25 5-41

Time of Possession 35:28 24:32

Rushing-Navy, Candeto 36-151, Roberts 5-93, Polanco 8-47, Brimage 10-37, Lane 4-15, Hines 1-11, Eckel 3-11, Carroll 1-2, Divis 1-(minus-1). Rice, Henderson 14-54, Lott 4-42, Herm 9-41, Beck 9-32, Smith 4-20, Bailey 2-10, Moore 2-2, Cates 1-2, Rucker 1-2, Battle 1-1. Passing-Navy, Candeto 6-10-0-76. Rice, Herm 3-8-0-7, Henderson 3-6-1-10. Receiving-Navy, Roberts 3-36, Wesley 2-32, Tomlinson 1-8. Rice, Lott 3-8, Battle 2-7, Hurd 1-2.

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