Owens takes charge and wants blame

New Navy QB criticizes his play in second quarter

September 04, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

College FootballLamar Owens took on a big burden when he succeeded Aaron Polanco as the starting Navy quarterback this season. After a heartbreaking opener, he wanted to shoulder an even bigger load.

"It had a lot to do with me," Owens said after Maryland rallied to beat the Midshipmen, 23-20, last night in their first meeting in 40 years. "I think I got a little too anxious. I didn't have a great second quarter, and it came back to haunt us."

Owens was being hard on himself after slithering and slashing his way to 122 rushing yards and passing for 97 more. He is only the third Navy quarterback to rush for 100 or more yards in his first start.

The quick-starting Midshipmen had a 14-3 lead when their third drive of the game stalled inside the Maryland 20 and Owens wanted to bear the full brunt of the blame.

First, Navy was assessed a delay-of-game penalty while facing a third-and-one at the Terps' 14. Then, on fourth down, Owens was charged with an illegal forward pass when he flipped the ball over his shoulder when it was obvious he wasn't going to make fourth-down yardage.

"We had a great opportunity there, and we didn't cash in," said Owens. "You let a great team hang around too long and they're going to get you. That came back to haunt us.

"I just didn't have a great second quarter. A little bit of me was just falling asleep."

Coach Paul Johnson was far less critical of the new director of his triple-option offense, a senior who had patiently waited for three years for this big chance.

"I thought he did OK. He ran the offense fairly well," said Johnson of Owens. "And he showed a little courage to come back in there at the end. He did about like I thought he would do."

Navy held a 14-6 advantage in the third quarter when Owens was knocked out of the game temporarily after dodging and darting for a 9-yard gain. He sustained a cramp in his hand and departed for the dressing room. Under second-team quarterback Brian Hampton, the Midshipmen failed to generate any offense, running basic material to no avail.

During this period, the Terrapins began controlling the flow and charged into a 15-14 lead.

As soon as Owens returned, Navy was re-invigorated, driving 80 yards in nine plays to take a 20-15 edge on Matt Hall's 6-yard touchdown run with 4:43 remaining in the game.

"I felt great being out there in my first start, just looking into the eyes of the guys looking toward me to lead them," said Owens. "I knew I needed to set the tone and I did my best to calm them. We got off to a great start and just didn't follow through."

Owens nearly equaled his entire previous career total of rushing yards (129) and was clearly the leader.

"Little mistakes just come back to hurt you," he said. "But losing by three points is not going to turn our season around. We're going to get better. The biggest improvement comes from the first game to the second."

Maryland 3 3 3 14-23

Navy 14 0 0 6-20

First quarter

Md-FG Ennis 26, 10:42.

Navy-Hall 3 run (Bullen kick), 4:43.

Navy-Nelson 7 run (Bullen kick), :04.

Second quarter

Md-FG Ennis 27, :11.

Third quarter

Md-FG Ennis 40, :06.

Fourth quarter

Md-Merrills 12 run (pass failed), 9:15., Navy-Hall 6 run (run failed), 4:43., Md-Weatherly 11 pass from Hollenbach (Merrills run), 1:01.

A-67,809.

..............................Md Navy

First downs 29 17

Rushes-yards 40-210 49-246

Passing 217 97

Comp-Att-Int 19-30-2 5-12-1

Return Yards 9 23

Punts-Avg. 2-49.5 4-44.2

Fumbles-Lost 2-0 0-0

Penalties-Yards 2-20 8-51

Time of Possession 29:43 30:17 Rushing-Maryland, Merrills 30-149, Ball 5-39, Walker 1-21, Hollenbach 3-2, Lattimore 1-(minus 1). Navy, Owens 19-122, Hall 17-68, Campbell 3-25, Nelson 2-10, Hampton 3-9, Whittaker 1-8, Shuey 1-7, Hines 1-0, team 1-(minus 1), Martin 1-(minus 2). Passing-Maryland, Hollenbach 19-30-2-217. Navy, Owens 5-11-0-97, Hampton 0-1-1-0, Martin 0-0-0-0. Receiving-Maryland, Walker 5-53, Weatherly 4-36, Ball 2-37, Fenner 2-36, Davis 2-26, Gronkowski 1-12, Goode 1-8, Dickerson 1-7, Lattimore 1-2. Navy, Tomlinson 3-72, Campbell 1-17, Nelson 1-8.

Next for Navy

Matchup: Stanford (0-0) at Navy (0-1)

When: Saturday, 6 p.m.

Radio: 1090 AM (will break away for Orioles-Mariners coverage), 1430 AM, 97.9 FM

Yesterday: Stanford was idle.

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