ANNAPOLIS — Navy’s football team already had endured a rough spring, losing player after player to injury. It got worse during the Blue-Gold game last night when starting quarterback Brian Hampton left the game after only two snaps.
Hampton, who entered the spring as the favorite to replace Lamar Owens, injured his left shoulder on an option play. The shoulder had bothered him earlier in the spring, and while the injury wasn’t considered serious, the torrential downpour at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium ensured he would not return.
Sophomore fullback Eric Kettani scored on a 1-yard plunge with 1:39 left to give the Gold team a 16-13 victory. Kicker Matt Harmon missed a 29-yard field goal with 5:34 left in the fourth quarter and it appeared the Blue squad would escape with the victory. The 11th fumble of the game came two plays later and the Gold team recovered deep in Blue territory.
“I think they had some fun and played, but I don’t know what you make of that,” Navy coach Paul Johnson said. “The conditions were tough and we’ve got some guys hurt. … Both teams made enough mistakes to lose 10 times.”
A pair of quarterbacks shined in Hampton’s absence. Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, who spent his freshman season at wide receiver, made a strong case to remain a signal-caller in the fall. Kaheaku-Enhada was 3-for-7 for 43 yards but had several nifty runs after replacing Hampton has the Blue squad’s quarterback. The best was a 72-yard scamper for a touchdown in the second quarter. He finished with 195 yards rushing on 26 carries and added another touchdown from 10 yards out but also fumbled twice.
Kaheaku-Enhada led the Blue team down the field for one final try, but kicker Joey Bullen missed a 36-yard field goal as time expired.
Another sophomore quarterback, Jarrod Bryant, showed off his running ability for the White team. Bryant isn’t listed among the three-deep depth chart, but he ran for 82 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run for the Gold team in which he broke several tackles.
“It was a challenge. It was something different for me,” Kaheaku-Enhada said. “It comes down to handling the ball, and I’ve got to do a better job of that.”
Kettani was another bright spot for the Midshipmen. Kettani, who saw more playing time because fullback Matt Hall missed the spring with a knee injury, ran for 82 yards on 15 carries and was the leading receiver with three catches for 43 yards.
“I think we all bring different things to the table,” Bryant said of himself, Kaheaku-Enhada and Troy Goss, who are battling to be Hampton’s backup. “I knew I was sitting down at the bottom, so I had to come out and have a good scrimmage.”
Linebacker Rob Caldwell led the Gold team with 16 tackles. Sophomore Clint Sovie, who could join Caldwell as the other starting inside linebacker in the fall, had 13 stops for the Blue squad.
Notes — Twenty-three players sat out the game because of injury. In addition to Hall, slotback Karlos Whittaker, cornerback Greg Sudderth and offensive tackle Joe Person who had missed the entire spring, there were several other players that will be counted on in the fall missing last night. Wideout Jason Tomlinson and offensive linemen Antron Harper and James Rossi are returning starters but missed the game. The defensive backfield was missing Ketric Buffin, Greg Thrasher, Rashawn King in addition to Sudderth.