Rested Navy edges Duke

Late TD gives Mids first win, 28-21

College football


DURHAM, N.C. -- After a record layoff of three weeks to contemplate two gut-wrenching losses, Navy's football team finally had a chance to celebrate yesterday.

And quarterback Lamar Owens did just that, galloping in horselike fashion after his 2-yard touchdown run with 1:18 remaining in the game propelled the Midshipmen to a 28-21 victory that spoiled Duke's homecoming before 15,246 on a sunny afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium.

Owens drew an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty - Navy's season-high ninth of the day - for excessive celebrating that gave Duke (1-4) an extra 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff. The Blue Devils countered by marching to the Navy 24 for one final play, but linebacker David Mahoney knocked away Mike Schneider's pass at the goal line as the clock expired.

"I looked up and saw 0:00 on the clock and knew that was it," Mahoney said.

Sluggish and hampered by first-half penalties, Navy (1-2) was fortunate to be tied at 7 at halftime. The Midshipmen had the ball only four times in the first two periods, and Duke nearly doubled their time of possession, an important statistic for a triple-option team.

"It was really disappointing the way they ran the ball in the first half, but I thought we did a better job in the second half against the run," said Navy coach Paul Johnson. "They had one drive where they ate up the whole second quarter. [In those 15 minutes, the Midshipmen ran six plays from scrimmage.] The good thing is that we weren't giving up points."

After Duke freshman Joe Surgan hit his first career field goal, a 43-yarder, for a 10-7 lead at the 7:58 mark of the third quarter, the Midshipmen and their option began unwinding.

One big play followed another. Reggie Campbell's 52-yard scamper set up a touchdown by Karlos Whittaker from the 5. Two minutes later Matt Hall cut off left tackle to the outside and dashed 47 yards for a touchdown.

In the meantime, Joey Bullen's effective deep kickoffs, good kick coverage and sacks by co-captain Jeremy Chase and Mahoney kept Duke pinned deep in its own territory.

A Campbell fumble at the Navy 15 recovered by Duke's Brendan Dewan then paved the way for Surgan's 40-yard field goal that narrowed Duke's deficit to 21-13. Navy went three and out, punted and the Blue Devils unleashed a drive that lasted nearly nine minutes and culminated in a 6-yard touchdown scramble by freshman quarterback Zack Asack.

Azack then threw a fade pass to Eron Riley in the corner of the end zone for a two-point conversion that tied the game at 21 with 3:20 left.

Late in that drive, Johnson was on the field quarreling with the officials after a controversial fourth-down measurement at the Navy 9 gave Duke a first down instead of a turnover on downs.

"No. 1, I saw the ball come out [Navy's Rob Caldwell had it] and No. 2, in 25 years I've never seen an official take the stick and push it back toward the ball," Johnson said.

It didn't take long to alleviate his ire. On the first play of the next series, Owens bolted 52 yards to the Duke 15 after he said he "missed the read. They just cut inside, somebody blocked the linebacker and I saw open field. It worked out."

Four plays later he went across for the game-winner in a less than artful game that the Midshipmen pulled out with a series of monstrous gainers.

"We had to overcome a lot of mistakes and a lot of penalties, but we found a way to win," Johnson said. "We just looked slow. We didn't look like we were playing very fast out there."

Duke finished with nearly twice as much possession time (roughly 39 minutes to 21), fewer turnovers, and seven more first downs. But it couldn't halt enough of the long plays out of the option.

"We have to find a way to make one more play, coach one more play and do something to get us over the hump," said Blue Devils coach Ted Roof.

"It hurts even worse when you go out there and give everything you have and come up short," said cornerback John Talley. "We just had a few lapses. That is something we have to get over."

The outcome was a confidence builder for Navy, which returns home next weekend to face archrival Air Force. An 0-3 start going into that game would have been very untidy indeed.

Navy 7 0 14 7 -28

Duke 7 0 3 11 -21

First quarter Duke-Boyle 3 run (Surgan kick), 2:05. Navy-Barnes 33 pass from Owens (Bullen kick), :00.

Third quarter Duke-FG Surgan 43, 7:58. Navy-Whittaker 5 run (Bullen kick), 5:17. Navy-Hall 47 run (Bullen kick), 3:10.

Fourth quarter Duke-FG Surgan 40, 14:12. Duke-Asack 6 run (Riley pass from Asack), 3:20. Navy-Owens 2 run (Bullen kick), 1:18. A-15,246.

Navy Duke

First downs 13 20

Rushes-yards 35-326 58-179

Passing 87 152

Comp-Att-Int 4-9-1 16-27-1

Return Yards 6 41

Punts-Avg. 2-41 4-42

Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-0

Penalties-Yards 9-74 4-35

Time of Possession 20:58 39:02 Rushing-Navy, Owens 13-106, Hall 8-66, Campbell 3-50, Tomlinson 1-46, Nelson 5-43, Whittaker 3-14, Ballard 1-4, Hines 1-(minus 3). Duke, Boyle 16-64, Asack 17-58, Dargan 12-44, Boyette 10-9, Drummer 1-2, Schneider 2-2. Passing-Navy, Owens 4-9-1-87. Duke, Asack 12-16-1-111, Schneider 4-8-0-41, team 0-3-0-0. Receiving-Navy, Barnes 2-65, Nelson 1-13, Ballard 1-9. Duke, Patrick 5-29, Adams 4-48, Wood 3-20, Wright 2-45, Dargan 1-6, Drummer 1-4.

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