HOUSTON (AP) -- Finally, Navy got a breather.
After five straight close games to start the season, the
Midshipmen routed Rice 41-9 on Saturday, handing the Owls their
nation-leading 12th consecutive loss.
Matt Hall rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns for Navy (4-2),
which enjoyed its largest margin of victory since a 54-21 win over
Rutgers last November. Four of Navy's previous five games this year
were decided by three points, and the fifth was a 28-21 win over
Duke on Oct. 1.
"I was getting tired of all the close games," Hall said.
"That's something we talked about -- that we don't have to make it
The lopsided loss was more the norm for Rice (0-6), outscored by
an average of 48-21 in its first five games. The Owls had been tied
with Army for the nation's longest win drought, but the Black
Knights ended their streak with a 20-0 win over Akron.
"We're obviously not very good right now," Rice coach Ken
Hatfield said. "We play hard, I don't think we play good. There's
a big difference between playing hard and playing good, and we have
to figure out a way to play good."
Chase Clement went 10-for-22 for 81 yards and threw a touchdown
pass for Rice, which is off to its worst start since going 0-11 in
1988. Clement, a redshirt freshman, started for sophomore Joel
Armstrong, who injured his shoulder in last week's loss to Tulsa.
Armstrong saw some action Saturday, but Clement took most of the
He took a beating, too, getting sacked five times.
"We just need to come together and be a family right now,"
Clement said. "We're going to find a win, it's going to come. We
just need to keep working hard and good things will happen."
The Midshipmen, the nation's fourth-best rushing team, had 301
yards on 44 carries against the Owls, who ranked 106th out of 117
I-A teams in run defense.
Navy led 13-3 at halftime, but blew several chances to start the
On the only two plays of the Midshipmen's second possession,
quarterback Lamar Owens scampered for 26 yards on an option keeper
and Hall burst up the middle for a 31-yard touchdown.
Rice halfback Tommy Henderson fumbled less than two minutes
later at the Owls' 18-yard line, but Navy receiver Jason Tomlinson
lost 5 yards on a third-down run and Joey Bullen sliced a 37-yard
field goal attempt.
Navy had first-down gains negated by penalties on its next two
possessions. On the Middies' next drive, Owens threw a wobbly
54-yard pass to Marco Nelson, but then badly overthrew Mick Yokitis
in the end zone. Navy settled for a 24-yard field goal by Bullen
and a 10-0 lead.
"Offensively, we weren't as consistent as I'd like," Navy
coach Paul Johnson said. "We missed a lot of opportunities. It was
feast or famine -- either we got big plays, or they got us."
Sophomore Luke Juist got the Owls on the board with a line-drive
53-yard field goal that bounced over the crossbar. Juist's first
field goal of the season was the fourth-longest in school history
and the longest since James Hamrick's 57-yarder against Texas Tech
Brian Hampton, who replaced a limping Owens on Navy's final
first-half possession, had two long runs to give the Midshipmen a
first down at the Rice 14. The drive stalled there, though, and
Bullen kicked a 31-yard field goal with 4 seconds left in the half.
Navy finally took control with a flurry of big plays to open the
Karlos Whittaker returned the kickoff to midfield, Owens and
Trey Hines had consecutive first-down runs and Whittaker broke two
tackles on a 19-yard TD run just 40 seconds into the third quarter.
A minute later, Navy linebacker Tyler Tidwell crashed into
Armstrong and forced a fumble inside the Rice 20. Owens zipped a
pass to Tomlinson for 11 yards and then pitched to Hall for a
7-yard TD run and a 27-3 Navy lead.
"We talked at halftime about coming out and seeing if we
couldn't put their lights out," Johnson said.
Clement threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Dillard later
in the third quarter. Navy's defense dominated from there, yielding
only 36 yards the rest of the way.
"We got a lot of negative yardage plays," Johnson said. "Our
defense played really well the whole game."
Hall had a 46-yard run early in the fourth quarter and Hines
scored from 11 yards out with 10:23 left in the game. Hampton had a
1-yard scoring run in the final minute.
Navy has a four-game winning streak for only the third time in
25 years. The Middies won their first five games in 2005 and their
last four games in 1997.
Saturday's game was originally scheduled for Sept. 24, but was
postponed because of Hurricane Rita.
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