For `12th Mid,' a memorable, if short-lived, appearance

Offensive line gets praise from Johnson after big day

Navy notebook

October 31, 2004|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

John McLaughlin didn't make a tackle or a mistake. He simply had a ball.

The first of two Navy seniors to act as the "12th Mid" underwent what he called "a tremendous experience from the beginning" yesterday when he ran down on the opening kickoff against Delaware, then retired to the sideline for an up-close look at the team's 34-20 victory.

"I was kind of like a cheerleader in pads after that opening play, but I stuck my head into the special teams coach's face a few times. I thought maybe I could get in for one more play," said McLaughlin, the co-captain of the Navy club lacrosse team.

He was two removed from kickoff man Geoff Blumenfeld and went straight down the field, brushing off one Blue Hens blocker, then winding up in a scrum away from the tackle.

"It was a great experience," he said. "But just like that, it was over. I started running down and I felt like I was a step behind everybody. I saw the guy tackled and that was it. I would have liked to have contributed more."

McLaughlin wore No. 12, "unretired" for the game with the consent of Navy Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach. On the back of the jersey was stitched "12th Mid" instead of his name.

"Just wearing the colors and the number capped it off," he said.

"I hope it is something he will remember," said Navy coach Paul Johnson. "I look forward to doing it again [on Nov. 20]. We had fun having him around."

Straight line

The Navy offensive line has been criticized since fall practice, and the scrutiny had been especially tough during a recent streak in which the team went four straight games without reaching 300 yards rushing. After yesterday's 346-yard outpouring, it was due for a little praise.

"The guys up front played better," said Johnson. "It was a challenge when we heard we weren't going to be able to run the ball on them. It made us want to run it."

Said fullback Kyle Eckel: "We know they've been under fire. There have been some problems with all 11 of us [on offense]. We just played with a lot of emotion."

End zone

Turnovers hurt Navy in last year's loss to Delaware, but the Midshipmen lost only one fumble yesterday, and that came after the game had been decided. ... Delaware had a six-game winning streak halted, but the team's focus is on winning the Atlantic 10 Conference. James Madison, unbeaten in the league, is its next opponent. ... Jason Tomlinson caught four passes, a career high, and Jeremy McGown had a career-best 11 tackles.

Next for Navy

Matchup: Navy (7-1) vs. Tulane (2-5)

Site: Superdome, New Orleans

When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

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

Yesterday: Tulane lost to Houston, 24-3.

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