- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2006

Evan Moore raced down the left sideline at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium last Sept. 10, his third catch of the season opener in tow.

Moore, already with a nifty touchdown catch in Stanford’s game against the Midshipmen, was pulled down short of a second score. He fell awkwardly, didn’t get up and his season was over.

He suffered a dislocated hip, and while the rest of his Cardinal teammates were authoring a 41-38 victory, Moore was enduring the most painful moments of his life.

“When you break a bone, eventually the pain just subsides,” Moore said. “This was just … the pain never decreased. Eventually I think I just passed out from the pain, because I don’t remember everything. They waited like a full hour to pop it back in.”

Moore was walking with a limp about two weeks later, but mostly avoided being upright for about a month. It was a long rehabilitation process, but Moore was more concerned before it began.

He had to wait eight weeks to find out if avascular necrosis, or AVN, would set in. It is a condition that affects blood circulation to the ball of the joint, and if it occurs hip replacement is necessary.

“The hardest part was waiting for the eight weeks to be up and not knowing if I was going to be able to play football again,” Moore said. “I feel so fortunate to be back 100 percent healthy and able to continue with the team.”

Moore returned to the field in Stanford’s opener against Oregon and caught four passes. He added four more and two touchdowns last week against San Jose State. But he has had to spend the week watching film of last season’s contest with Navy and replaying that miserable night, and he might have to become an even bigger part of the offense.

While Moore tries to complete a successful return, his good friend and fellow wideout Mark Bradford could miss the rest of the season with torn ligaments in his foot.

“It was a shock to find out the severity of his injury,” Moore said. “When I heard the news it killed me. No one deserved a chance to have a great season more than Mark. Hearing he could be out for the season is rough.”

Moore, who is 6-foot-7 and in part because of a basketball background has great hands, will have to be the No. 1 option for quarterback Trent Edwards. Bradford, who has 118 receptions and 30 career starts, might be replaced in the lineup by a true freshman.

Last season Moore had 66 yards receiving against the Midshipmen. Navy cornerback Keenan Little was with Moore stride-for-stride in the end zone on Stanford’s first touchdown of the season but couldn’t jump high enough to dislodge the ball from Moore’s outstretched arms.

“He’s a really good player,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “He has great hands. Anything that gets close to him he catches and they have an outstanding quarterback throwing him the ball so it will be a big challenge to our secondary.”

Both Moore and Bradford began their careers as two-sport athletes at Stanford. After both played as true freshmen for the football team, they were reserves on the basketball team that finished the season 30-2.

When both the football and basketball programs changed coaches the next season, the pair decided to concentrate on football.

“Most people assume it was too difficult physically, but it really wasn’t,” Moore said. “I’ve been playing basketball even longer than I played football. It wasn’t something that [new football] coach [Walt] Harris told us to do or anything like that. Mark and I just decided that we had worked so hard to become part of the [basketball] team after joining them in January and it wasn’t something we really wanted to go through again.”

If Bradford, a senior, is out for the season, it means the pair could reunite in 2007 after two years of waiting. For now, it will be Moore’s turn to be the go-to receiver while Bradford recovers.

The Cardinal, coming off loses to Oregon and San Jose State to open the season, are certainly going to need him.

“It is a bigger role, but we also have other guys here who can step in,” Moore said. “There is a bigger load, but I think I can handle it.”

MIDSHIPMEN KEYS

1. 41 and 416 — While much of the media focus this week has been on Navy’s sloppy performance on offense against Massachusetts, the Mids defense needs to play better this week than it did last season against Stanford. The Cardinal racked up 41 points and 416 yards — and return most of the offense intact. Trent Edwards is the second-best quarterback the Mids will face this season behind Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn.

2. Hold on to the ball — Seven fumbles, a muffed punt and an interception last week against Massachusetts equaled one of the worst performances by Navy’s offense in the Paul Johnson era. Six times in 13 drives the Mids did not earn a first down. Stanford’s defense is young, and if Navy values the ball better and the quarterback makes better option reads, the Mids offense could have a big day.

3. Passing progress — Johnson seemed unfazed by the lack of a passing attack in the first two games, citing the low number of attempts. But Brian Hampton’s inability to hit an open receiver caused Johnson to forget about that part of the playbook. Navy doesn’t need to match Stanford completion for completion, but a few to keep the secondary honest would be helpful.

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