Mids' goal: do away with giveaways

Turnovers doom Navy in loss to Wake

October 22, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,SUN REPORTER

Navy is a team on the edge.

"There is no margin of error for us," said Midshipmen coach Paul Johnson, whose team experienced multiple mishaps Saturday in a 44-24 loss to Wake Forest at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, where 36,992 fans had gathered for homecoming.

The first problem for the Mids (4-3) came late in the second quarter when quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada went down on a near helmet-to-helmet tackle that left him with a neck injury.

While Kaheaku-Enhada did not return, linebacker Irv Spencer said the quarterback was OK on the sideline during the second half. "He just has a stinger," Spencer said.

After the game, Johnson said he expected his starter to be ready to play Saturday against Delaware, a prognosis he hoped to have confirmed by today.

Filling in for Kaheaku-Enhada, Jarod Bryant fumbled on his first play from scrimmage when the Mids failed to cut off cornerback Alphonso Smith, who was blitzing. Wake Forest linebacker Matt Robinson picked up the ball and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Demon Deacons (5-2) a 24-17 lead. Navy never recovered, as two more fumbles resulted in 10 more points for Wake Forest.

"You can't overcome turnovers, and the reality is you're not going to score every time you have the ball," Johnson said. "We didn't value the ball very much at all."

Johnson spread around the blame for Navy's woes, from coaches to special teams, who needed stronger kickoffs and better coverage on returns.

"We've got to coach better, and they've got to play better," he said. "The defense has to play better, but so does everyone else. We didn't play well enough in any facet of the game to win."

sandra.mckee@baltsun.com

NAVY REWIND

Replay

Navy's 57-yard drive that started with 7:32 to play in the first quarter. The drive consumed a season-high 6 minutes, 46 seconds and had all the elements that make the Midshipmen's offense formidable. Quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada used the triple option to perfection, getting the ball to Eric Kettani, Reggie Campbell, Zerb Singleton and Shun White, and sometimes keeping it.

Erase

Navy's defense, which forced one punt all afternoon, and the failure of the Mids' offensive players to protect the football, losing three of four fumbles.

Fast forward

Navy (4-3) takes on Delaware (6-1), on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Blue Hens had a bye last week, giving them an additional week to prepare for Navy's triple option. The series is tied 7-7. Navy won the last meeting, 34-20, in 2004.

SANDRA McKEE

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