- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2006

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — Nearly four years have passed since Connecticut visited Annapolis and dominated Navy on the way to a blowout victory. That’s a long time in football years, but Navy coach Paul Johnson hadn’t forgotten.

And Johnson couldn’t help but mention it to the Midshipmen just before yesterday’s rematch.

“I think he used that as a motivational factor in the pre-game [speech],” outside linebacker David Mahoney said. “He got so excited. He said, ‘They embarrassed us. You come out and go hard. We don’t want what happened then to happen now.’”

Johnson, his coaching staff, and everyone on the Navy sideline enjoyed a measure of revenge in a 41-17 rout of the Huskies before an announced crowd of 40,000 at Rentschler Field. Quarterback Brian Hampton ran for 182 yards and three touchdowns and passed for a career-high 141 yards and another touchdown for the Mids (4-1).

Hampton shared the heroics with slot back Reggie Campbell, who scored on Navy’s first offensive play each half and ran for 101 yards on five carries. UConn (2-2) entered the game with the nation’s 10th-ranked defense, giving up an average of 231 yards. But the Mids had 317 yards at halftime and finished with 605, including 464 (ninth best in school history) on the ground.

The Mids had been starving for big plays. In the first four games of the season, Navy had only one play of more than 30 yards. But this day began with a 77-yard touchdown pass from Hampton to Campbell, who opened the second half with a 68-yard touchdown run. Hampton added a 52-yard run for another score and fullback Adam Ballard broke free for an 81-yard run in the second quarter that led to a 27-yard field goal by Matt Harmon.

“Offensively, we really hadn’t gotten rolling on all cylinders,” said Ballard, who left the game in the second half after suffering a shoulder stinger. “Today it just felt like everything we were doing, everything we had been practicing, was just working. There weren’t many kinks in our offense.”

The score easily could have been more lopsided. Navy drove to the UConn 26 and 19 in the first half and came away scoreless both times. The Huskies made one big defensive stand early in the fourth quarter, stopping the Mids on fourth-and-1 at the UConn 2. Still, the 41 points were the most scored against UConn at home since it moved to Rentschler Field in 2003.

“We just got outplayed,” said UConn coach Randy Edsall, whose team beat Navy 38-0 in 2002. “We haven’t had many days like this in the program.”

UConn played Division I-AA Rhode Island in the season opener, beating the Rams 52-7 in an effort to prepare for Navy’s triple option. Edsall said he warned his defense to be alert for a play action pass on the first play. But UConn safety M.J. Estep bit on the play fake, allowing Campbell to get wide open over the middle for the 77-yard touchdown pass. It was the sixth-longest pass play in Navy history.

“I think that gave us the momentum,” Hampton said. “We watched them over and over and over again on film against Rhode Island and when there was motion or something like that, we watched how they picked it up or adjusted to it. Honestly, it just left the middle of the field wide open.”

By the time Campbell scored on the first play of the second half, the Huskies seemed physically and mentally defeated. And the Mids, who now have scored on their first possession of the second half 13 times in their last 16 games, had the confidence boost they needed.

UConn tailback Terry Caulley, who had 157 yards and two touchdowns in that 2002 game against Navy, was held to 87 yards rushing and scored his only touchdown on a pass reception. Johnson could even forgive the 12 penalties (tying Navy’s season total entering the game) for 110 yards.

When he heard that Navy’s 464 rushing yards were the second most ever against UConn, Johnson offered a little smirk. Only Georgia Southern, with 530 yards against the Huskies in the 1998 I-AA quarterfinals, ever did better. That Georgia Southern team was coached by Johnson.

“The last time we played [UConn] we had a hard time getting back to the line of scrimmage,” Johnson said, flashing back to 2002 again. “It was our first year there and yeah … we didn’t score. I’ve been coaching a long time and that doesn’t happen much. I took it kind of personal too.

“They played us exactly the same way [Saturday]. Why wouldn’t they? We just did a little better executing and we’ve probably got a few more players.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide