- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 21, 2005

Defensive coordinator Buddy Green might not have liked it, but Navy’s option offense was sharp in a scrimmage yesterday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Midshipmen’s first-team offense scored on its first two possessions, and both the second and third teams drove the 70 yards necessary for a touchdown their second time with the ball.

While the passing was erratic, the first-team ground attack ripped off large chunks of yards at times. Slotback Marco Nelson had 99 yards on four carries and fullback Matt Hall had 41 yards on six attempts. Hall is much smaller than his predecessor, Kyle Eckel, but he used his quickness and powerful legs to dart around tacklers on a 17-yard scamper to finish the first drive of the scrimmage.

Nelson scored on touchdown runs of 54 and 31 yards — both on well-executed option pitches.

“I think the offense did pretty well,” Hall said. “The line was blocking great today. We came out to play, the offense did. I think we looked pretty sharp.”

All three quarterbacks completed less than 50 percent of their passes. Freshman third-stringer Joe Taylor threw the only touchdown pass on a rollout to his right — a 12-yard toss to Garth Davidson in the back right corner of the end zone.

Starter Lamar Owens wasn’t asked to throw much, but he did have one strike into traffic over the middle to convert a first down on third-and-long. If Owens hadn’t locked up the job before yesterday, backup Brian Hampton’s erratic performance probably left no doubt.

“Hampton is like a pretty girl. He just kind of teases you,” coach Paul Johnson said.

A pair of starters — wideout Jason Tomlinson and safety DuJuan Price — did not participate. A few other members of the first-string defense played sparingly, which might have played a part in some of the offense’s success.

Johnson continued to tinker with his skill players, moving freshman quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada to wide receiver and playing sophomore Adam Ballard at slotback as well as his usual fullback position.

“[Kaheaku-Enhada] is one of our better athletes, one of the faster guys on the team,” Johnson said. “It’s just a chance to try and get him on the field. He’s probably not going to play quarterback for us this year barring catastrophe. Rather than have him stand over there with me, let’s try to find a way to use him.”

Ballard had 14 yards on three carries at fullback and corralled a dump pass from Hampton and rambled 27 yards. His 6-foot-1, 240-pound frame was a contrast from the set of diminutive runners Navy has stocked up at slotback.

There were no turnovers until late in the scrimmage, when units were mixed and freshmen were playing aplenty. Junior linebacker Joe Cylc scooped up a fumble and ran it from 25 yards out for the lone defensive score of the scrimmage.

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