Smaller Mids try offensive trickery

Johnson doesn't second-guess calls

Navy notebook

December 31, 2006|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun reporter

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Navy coach Paul Johnson was looking for a way to counter Boston College's huge size advantage, and he dug deep into his playbook to do it in yesterday's last-second 25-24 loss to the Eagles in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

The Mids opened with an unusual formation, sending usual starting quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada to a wide-out position with two other receivers in a triple-stack look. That left sophomore Jarod Bryant to make his first career start at quarterback.

"[The Eagles] were so much bigger than we were that we thought maybe if we started the game trying to spread them out a little bit and tried to make them run, we could lay them down some," Johnson said. "I don't know if I've ever played a football game where the two [defensive tackles] are both 345 pounds. It took away most anything we had inside."

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Sunday's editions about the Navy-Boston College football game misidentified BC player Brian Toal.
The Sun regrets the error.

So, the Mids went outside, and did it effectively throughout the first half and sparingly in the second. Sophomore slotback Shun White (116 yards) had his second 100-yard day, including a career-high 53-yard run. Junior Zerbin Singleton, the team's best blocker, had 71 on six carries and scored his first career touchdown.

And Navy dispensed with the gimmickry early in its second possession.

"We just wanted to shake it up a little bit and try to catch [Boston College] off guard," said Kaheaku-Enhada, who surprised the Eagles by completing four of six passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

The Mids nearly pulled off one more trick early in the second quarter, but it backfired. After taking a 14-6 lead, Navy attempted an onside kick, which did catch the Eagles off guard. But Matt Harmon's kick toward the right sideline rolled too hard ahead of the coverage team and went out of bounds, giving the Eagles a first down at the Boston College 44.

Eight plays later, the Eagles scored to cut the lead to 14-13.

20-20 hindsight

Johnson disputed the notion that his decision to go for it on fourth-and-one at the Boston College 19 with a minute left in the first half changed the game's momentum. Navy, leading 21-13 with a chance to go on top by two scores at the half, got stuffed after Kaheaku-Enhada's attempted keeper went nowhere.

Boston College took over, and Ryan swiftly moved the Eagles down the field through the air. Steve Aponavicius kicked a 26-yard field goal as time expired, cutting Navy's halftime lead to 21-16.

"I don't know if it deflated the team. We came out in the third quarter and moved the ball 80 yards and kicked a field goal," Johnson said. "Hindsight is 20-20. We could have lined up to kick and missed and everybody would have said, "Why didn't you go for it?" In this business, when it works you're smart and if it doesn't work, you're not smart."

Distracted Eagles

Frank Spaziani, the interim head coach and defensive coordinator at Boston College, gave the Eagles a thumbs-up for perseverance. Three weeks ago, they lost coach Tom O'Brien to North Carolina State.

"What they had to overcome and all the adversity, I really couldn't put it in words," he said. "No one asked about Navy. The first question everybody asked was about the situation. They grew up a lot and learned you can overcome that. We almost didn't, but we did."

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

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