Navy rebounds to tame Tulane, 35-17

Mids rush for 357 yards, bounce back from loss to Delaware last week

College Football

November 02, 2003|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Navy figured it would score at a pretty good clip against a severely wounded Tulane defense, and the Midshipmen believed their much-improved defense could contain an explosive Green Wave attack.

Yesterday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Navy rolled in both areas and cruised to a 35-17 victory before 27,417.

And while bouncing back from last week's homecoming loss to Division I-AA Delaware, the Mids assured themselves of a non-losing season for the first time in six years, raised their hopes for a bowl-game invitation and tuned up nicely for this week's trip to Notre Dame.

Navy (6-3) has doubled the victory total from its previous three seasons combined, during which the Mids went 3-30.

"We're happy with the progress we're making, but we're not satisfied," said Navy junior fullback Kyle Eckel, who rushed for 120 yards. "I'm not thinking about the goals. Win the games, and the goals will take care of themselves. We want to win them all."

With one more victory, Navy would produce its first winning season since 1997 and would qualify for a bowl game. In all likelihood, Navy, which has no conference affiliation and has beaten five Division I-A opponents, must win two of its last three games to solidify a chance for its first bowl bid since 1996.

The Mids handed Tulane (3-6) its fifth consecutive defeat, avoided a two-game losing streak for the third time this year, and barely missed a beat on offense, despite a season-high four turnovers and the limited availability of senior slotback Eric Roberts. He suffered a sprained ankle against Delaware and touched the ball twice yesterday.

One week after playing perhaps his worst game of the season, senior quarterback Craig Candeto returned to form by running Navy's triple option smoothly, albeit against a Green Wave unit that has been so ravaged by injuries that only one player has started every game at the same position in 2003.

Candeto set the tone by rushing for 140 yards and three touchdowns, leading Navy to a 357-yard day on the ground. Candeto engineered two touchdown drives to start each half, staked Navy to a quick 14-0 advantage, and showed bursts of speed running in the open field.

Eckel cracked the 100-yard mark for the fifth time this year. Senior slotback Tony Lane added 126 yards running and receiving.

It was enough to cover up two turnovers by freshman kick returners Jason Tomlinson and Jeremy McGown and a dropped touchdown pass by Lane, which preceded an interception by Candeto.

The rest of the day belonged to a Navy defense that successfully used extra defensive backs, zone blitzes and excellent tackling to stare down a potent Tulane offense that entered the contest averaging 30 points and was one year removed from a 51-30 rout over the Mids.

"We had five [defensive backs] and our job was to form an umbrella on top of [Tulane's receivers] and let nothing beat us deep," said Navy cornerback Shalimar Brazier, who had six tackles, broke up a pass and intercepted quarterback J.P. Losman in the end zone.

Despite a 115-yard rushing effort from running back Mewelde Moore and a 10-reception day by wide-out Roydell Williams, the Green Wave never broke a play for longer than 22 yards.

"[Tulane] ran a lot of snaps. They held on to the ball. But we made them snap it again and again. You can't let them get behind you," Navy coach Paul Johnson said.

Tulane got behind early and never recovered. Candeto opened by leading a seven-play, 68-yard drive, fueled by a 33-yard completion to Lane. Candeto scored from 1 yard out to put Navy on top 7-0 with 8:54 left in the first quarter.

After an interception and a 22-yard return by Navy linebacker Eddie Carthan, Candeto rolled around right end, was barely touched and pulled away to complete a 28-yard scoring run, making it 14-0 with 6:10 left in the quarter.

Navy now sets its sights on the struggling Fighting Irish (2-6), whom the Mids have not beaten since 1963.

"I know we're supposed to take it one game at a time, but that's the game we've been waiting on," Carthan said.

Tulane 0 10 0 7 - 17

Navy 14 7 14 0 - 35

First quarter N-Candeto 1 run (Rolfs kick), 8:54. N-Candeto 28 run (Rolfs kick), 6:10. Second quarter T-Smith 6 pass from Losman (Pepper kick), 12:05. N-Hines 4 run (Rolfs kick), 4:53. T-FG Pepper 41, 0:00. Third quarter N-Divis 8 run (Rolfs kick), 11:59. N-Candeto 8 run (Rolfs kick), 4:31. Fourth quarter T-Terranova 6 pass from Cannon (Pepper kick), 0:00. A-27,417.

T N

First downs 22 25

Rushes-yards 35-145 58-357

Passing 214 57

Comp-Att-Int 27-40-2 2-7-1

Return Yards 7 66

Punts-Avg. 4-43.5 1-54.0

Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-3

Penalties-Yards 3-30 2-25

Time of Possession 31:48 28:12

Rushing-Tulane, Moore 19-115, Coleman 4-23, Jackson 6-17, Smith 1-8, Losman 5-(-18). Navy, Candeto 18-140, Eckel 26-120, Lane 6-69, Divis 1-8, Roberts 2-2, Brimage 2-5, Hines 3-13. Passing-Tulane, Losman 25-38-198-2, Cannon 2-2-16-0. Navy, Candeto 2-7-57-1. Receiving-Tulane, Williams 10-85, Moore 6-55, Smith 5-29, Terranova 2-16, Navy, Lane 2-57.

Next for Navy

Matchup: Navy (6-3) vs. Notre Dame (2-6)

Site: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind.

When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 11, 4/WJFK (1300 AM), WNAV (1430 AM)

Yesterday: Notre Dame lost to No. 5 Florida State, 37-0

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