- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2007

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Navy quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada completed three passes in the end zone last night.

Unfortunately, two of them landed in the hands of Rutgers defenders, and a total of three turnovers proved too much or the Midshipmen to overcome in a 41-24 loss to the 15th-ranked Scarlet Knights before 43,514 at Rutgers Stadium.

“For us to be successful, we need to run the football and we need to take care of the football,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “We ran the football OK, I don’t know what we had [254 yards]. We missed some stuff in the passing game, and we didn’t take care of the football.”

Kaheaku-Enhada suffered three interceptions, the first Navy quarterback to do so since Chris McCoy against Notre Dame in 1997.

Navy trailed 17-7 in the waning moments of the first half and had second-and-goal at the Rutgers 4-yard line, but Kaheaku-Enhada was hit as he threw into triple coverage, and Ron Girault grabbed the fluttering toss.

“I was trying to throw it away,” Kaheaku-Enhada said. “I got back there and just made really poor decisions tonight.”

Rutgers responded with an 80-yard march capped by a 22-yard screen pass to Ray Rice for a 24-7 halftime lead. Rice, who in the first quarter became Rutgers’ all-time leading rusher, finished the game with 175 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries to go along with the touchdown reception.

The Mids scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the second half, and cornerback Ketric Buffin picked off Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel two plays later. Instead of Navy closing within one score, Kaheaku-Enhada’s deep slant pass intended for Reggie Campbell was plucked out of the air by safety Courtney Greene.

“The thing that turned it is when we got the interception,” Johnson said. “We put that one in the end zone and make it 24-21, now we’ve got a game and maybe they panic.”

While Navy’s defense might have played a little better than it did a week ago against lowly Temple, the Mids couldn’t handle the combination of Rice and Rutgers’ speedy receivers. With plenty of time to throw, Teel completed 14 of 19 for 266 yards and three touchdowns, including a 53-yarder to Kenny Britt in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

A pair of first-quarter injuries to key defenders didn’t help the Mids’ cause. Senior captain Jeff Deliz injured his right ankle at the end of Rutgers’ first drive and did not return. He spent the rest of the game on crutches and wore a protective boot in the second half.

Junior linebacker Clint Sovie, one of the defense’s two returning starters from a year ago, left the game during the second series with a left ankle injury and also spent the rest of the evening on crutches.

“You get like a deer in headlights. You see the lights and you realize you’ve got your family watching,” senior linebacker Irv Spencer said. “Those young guys, I could see it in their faces. Maybe they were nervous and weren’t as confident, but we’re going to work on that for next week.”

Navy stopped Rutgers on its first drive, but the Scarlet Knights forged a 14-0 lead thanks to great field position. Greg Veteto’s first punt was downed at Navy’s 40, and Teel connected with Shamar Graves three plays later for a 12-yard touchdown.

Rutgers defensive end George Johnson intercepted Kaheaku-Enhada’s quick slant pass on the Mids’ next drive, and the Scarlet Knights again needed only three plays to extend the lead to two touchdowns.

The Mids answered with a 57-yard drive that featured a heavy dose of backup fullback Eric Kettani. Johnson used several different tweaks to his standard option offense against an athletic Rutgers defense. The Mids sent a slotback in motion in a straight line like a wide receiver normally would, and it appeared to catch the Scarlet Knights off guard. It opened up the middle for Kettani, who finished the game with a team-high 48 yards on nine carries.

Kaheaku-Enhada capped the drive with a 3-yard pass to Campbell, who had used the same straight-line motion before the snap.

“The way they played, we tried to scheme a little bit,” Johnson said. “I thought we had some decent ideas, but it didn’t turn out quite as well I would have hoped.

“I told them after the game, the good thing about our football program over the past few years is we don’t lose two games in a row. We’ve got to go back and correct the mistakes, and we’ve got to stop turning the ball over.”

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