White's record 348 rushing yards lift Mids

August 31, 2008|By Don Markus | Don Markus,don.markus@baltsun.com

Shun White played the past two seasons at Navy in the shadows of fellow slotback Reggie Campbell and quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. White showed his promise, but could anyone see this kind of brilliance coming?

With the graduated Campbell watching from the sideline at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and Kaheaku-Enhada out with an injury, the shadows surrounding White disappeared yesterday in a season-opening 41-13 win over Towson in Annapolis.

In a record-breaking performance highlighted by an 87-yard touchdown run in the first half and a 73-yard touchdown run on his last carry, White shattered the single-game school record with 348 yards on just 19 attempts.

The victory was the first for new Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo, who went to White when it became obvious the Tigers were usually shadowing fullback Eric Kettani, sometimes with two players.

"We gave him the challenge early on in the week that this is what we're going to do, we're going to ride him if they were going to take away Eric, and he said, 'Coach, just give me the ball,' " Niumatalolo said of White.

The ride was exhilarating for White, whose first touchdown run was for 33 yards. Only a brief case of leg cramps in the fourth quarter seemed to stop the 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior.

White surprised even himself in breaking the previous record of 298 yards set by Eddie Meyers in 1981.

Asked whether he envisioned such a performance, White said: "To be honest, I really didn't. I just told myself that I was going to go out there and give my best to my teammates, and every time I got the ball, I was going to run as hard as I could and as fast as I could."

It proved to be a dangerous combination. White, who holds the school record in the 60-meter dash, was too fast for the Towson defense.

"When he gets his shoulders turned, he goes into a different speed," Towson coach Gordy Combs said. "We had guys there; we just didn't make plays. We went into the game thinking [Jarod] Bryant was going to carry more [and] they would give the ball to Kettani. They did a good job of putting White in position."

White had 211 yards by halftime, but Towson's Sean Schaefer had helped keep the Tigers relatively close by completing 20 of 31 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns in a half that ended with Navy up 24-13.

Aside from White, the Midshipmen were helped by senior quarterback Bryant, who scored the game's first touchdown by faking a handoff to Kettani and looking briefly at White before scootering in from 20 yards.

"I thought Jarod was playing phenomenal until that fumble," Niumatalolo said of Bryant, who finished with 75 yards on 17 carries but got an earful from his coach after fumbling at the Towson 8-yard line in the third quarter. "I just thought his demeanor, he got a little bit nonchalant.

"For us to get to the next level, he has to play consistent the whole game, but he'll do that."

So must the Navy defense going into Friday's nationally televised game at Ball State. Between cornerback Rashawn King's interception on Towson's opening drive and three second-half sacks, two involving freshman end Jabaree Tuani, the defense was a little too relenting, especially in the air.

"In the first half we let them get some drives on us and they scored a few points," said linebacker Clint Sovie, who returned after missing most of last season with a foot injury. "In the second half we came out with a different attitude. We told ourselves we were not going to let them score this half."

Notes: Navy's rushing total of 558 yards was the third most in school history and the most ever surrendered by Towson, which was playing a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) team for the first time in its 40-year history. ... Schaefer, a four-year starter, finished the game with 330 yards, completing 29 of 47 passes.

Next for Navy: @Ball State, Friday, 7 p.m.

TV: ESPN

Radio: 1090 AM

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