Mids Open Home Slate on Saturday Versus Louisiana Tech
Junior Emmett Merchant paced the Mids in their opener with a career-high eight tackles
Sept. 7, 2009
Setting the Stage
Navy (0-1) and Louisiana Tech (0-1) meet for the first time on the gridiron when the two schools battle on Saturday in a nationally-televised contest on CBS College Sports. The game is being sponsored by BB&T.
Pete Medhurst (play-by-play) and Randy Cross (analyst) will call the action from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000) beginning at 3:30 pm.
The Navy Football Radio Network will provide more than six hours of coverage starting at 1:30 pm with its pregame show on 1430 WNAV (Annapolis) hosted by Pete Medhurst, Joe Miller and Wiley Baker.
The Navy Football Pregame Show will get underway at 2:30 pm with Bob Socci, Omar Nelson, John Feinstein and Joe Miller setting the scene from Annapolis, followed by game action beginning at 3:30 pm. Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 127) will carry the Navy broadcast.
Following the contest, Pete Medhurst and Joe Miller will recap the day's events in a 60-minute postgame show live on 1430 WNAV.
Pregame festivities will get underway at 1:15 pm with the Navy Football Team Walk.
Originating at the Blue Angel in the southwest corner of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, the team will make its way down the sidewalk and through NavyFest before walking up the drive to the stadium. Fans are encouraged to line up on both sides of the sidewalk to cheer for the team.
The march-on of Brigade of Midshipmen will take place at 3:11 pm.
Saturday's fly-by (3:29 pm) features two F/A-18 Hornets from the "Gladiators" of VFA-106 based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Va. Piloting the lead aircraft will be Lt. Matt "Koko" Nieswand, USNA Class of 2001. The wing aircraft will be piloted by Capt. Ralph "Rave" Iseli, an exchange pilot from the Swiss Air Force. VFA-106 is the East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron training Navy and Marine Corps aviators in all models of the F/A-18. The squadron is comprised of over 100 fighter aircraft and 150 aviators making it the largest squadron in the US Navy. Former Gladiators are currently deployed in every theatre of operation providing air support for the US and Allied forces on the ground.
Navy is just 4-3 in home openers in the "triple option era," defeating Towson (41-13) in 2008, East Carolina (28-23) in 2006, Duke (27-12) in 2004 and VMI (37-10) in 2003.
The Mids lost their home openers in 2007 (34-31 to Ball State in overtime), 2005 (40-38 to Stanford) and 2002 (65-19 to NC State).
Navy owns an 84-37-7 record all-time in home openers, including a 31-19-0 record in games played at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first game played at Jack Stephens Field at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Scouting The Bulldogs
Louisiana Tech enters Saturday's contest with a 0-1 record after dropping a 37-13 decision at Auburn in its opener last Saturday.
The Bulldogs trailed just 13-10 at the half.
Louisiana Tech rushed for 96 yards and threw for another 149, while giving up 301 yards on the ground and 255 through the air to the Tigers.
Louisiana Tech finished 8-5 last year, which featured a 17-10 victory over Northern Illinois in the Independence Bowl.
Head coach Derek Dooley is the only FBS coach in the country to also serve as the school's Director of Athletics.
Four-Time Super Bowl winning quarterback Terry Bradshaw played football at Louisiana Tech, as did country music star Trace Adkins.
Navy vs. the WAC
Navy is 0-1 all-time against the Western Athletic Conference, losing to Hawai'i, 48-41, in 1999.
In addition to Louisiana Tech, the Mids will battle Hawai'i on Nov. 28 in Honolulu.
Turnovers Cost Mids Chance At Monumental Upset
With 2:23 remaining in the contest, Ohio State's Brian Rolle intercepted Ricky Dobbs' attempted two-point conversion and returned it 100 yards for a defensive PAT, securing the sixth-ranked Buckeyes' 31-27 victory over Navy.
Ohio State led Navy 29-14 with 6:32 left in the contest and had a chance to put the game away by kicking a 32-yard field goal on fourth down. Instead of kicking the field goal, Ohio State elected to go for it and running back Dan Herron was stopped well short of the first down by junior linebacker Tyler Simmons and junior corner Kevin Edwards.
On the very next play, Dobbs hit sophomore Marcus Curry with an 85-yard touchdown pass to cut the Ohio State lead to 29-21. The pass play was the third-longest in school history.
The Navy defense got the ball right back when, on third-and-nine from the Ohio State 40, Terrelle Pryor's pass was intercepted by junior Emmett Merchant at the Navy 39-yard line and Merchant returned the pick 28 yards down to the Ohio State 33.
Three plays later, Dobbs scored on a 24-yard run right up the middle to cut Ohio State's lead to two and setting up Rolle's heroics.
Navy's three turnovers and the interception on the two-point conversion (which does not count as a turnover) was converted into 16 points by Ohio State.
Dobbs, making just his second career start, outplayed Pryor, who is a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Dobbs had 239 yards of total offense (83 rushing, 156 passing) and was responsible for all four Navy touchdowns (two rushing, two passing), while Pryor had 204 yards of total offense (30 rushing, 174 passing) and was responsible for two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing).
Sophomores Alexander Teich and Curry were impressive in their first career starts. Teich battled for 61 yards on just 13 carries, while Curry caught two passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior wide receiver Mike Schupp caught a career-high three passes for 23 yards.
The defense played well all day, holding Ohio State to 363 yards of total offense, including just 153 on the ground.
Merchant led Navy with eight tackles and an interception, while Simmons had seven stops. Senior linebacker Ross Pospisil recorded six tackles, including his first-career sack, while Blake Carter, Tony Haberer and Edwards all had six stops.
The 27 points by Navy are the most points surrendered by Ohio State in a season opener since 1950 when the Buckeyes lost to 10th-ranked SMU, 33-27.
The four-point victory was the narrowest margin of victory by Ohio State in an opener since 1992 when the Buckeyes edged Louisville, 20-19.
The attendance of 105,092 at the Horseshoe was the largest for an opening game in stadium history.
On tap to play one of the toughest schedules in recent memory, the Mids will battle eight teams this fall that played in bowl games a year ago, including the first three games and five of the first six games.
One week into the season, Navy's opponents own a combined 8-5 record.
Ohio State is ranked No. 6 in the country and is the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten after playing Texas in the Fiesta Bowl.
Louisiana Tech is projected to have one of its best teams in years after winning the Independence Bowl last year.
Pitt is picked to win the Big East after playing in the Sun Bowl a year ago.
Air Force is picked fourth in the Mountain West Conference after playing in the Armed Services Bowl last year.
Rice is coming off a 10-3 season and won the Texas Bowl.
Wake Forest is coming off an 8-5 campaign and beat Navy in the EagleBank Bowl.
Notre Dame is ranked 23rd in the preseason poll and is coming off a Hawai'i Bowl championship.
Hawai'i finished 7-7 last year, losing to Notre Dame in the Hawai'i Bowl.
Navy Seeks Seventh-Straight Season of Eight or More Wins
The Midshipmen have won at least eight games in six-consecutive seasons, the longest streak in school history and the nation's 12th-longest active streak.
Navy's current streak of six-consecutive winning seasons is the longest since turning in 10-straight winning seasons from 1952-61.
Navy returns 25 letterwinners and 13 starters (four offense, seven defense, two specialists) from a team that posted an 8-5 record, won a school-record sixth-straight Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, defeated a school-record four bowl teams, appeared in a school-record sixth-straight bowl game, won an NCAA-record fourth-consecutive national rushing title and led the FBS in graduation rate for a fourth-straight year.
Ricky Dobbs' 85-yard touchdown pass to sophomore slot back Marcus Curry was the third-longest pass play in school history.
Matt Scornavacchi caught an 87-yard pass from Chris McCoy against Tulane on Nov. 18, 1995 to set the record.
The Dobbs-to-Curry connected was the longest pass play since Craig Candeto threw an 86-yard touchdown pass to Eric Roberts against Central Michigan in 2003.
Curry Has Big Day
Sophomore slot back Marcus Curry caught two passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns against No. 6 Ohio State in his first career start. Additionally, he rushed for 14 yards on four carries.
Curry is the first Navy player since Tyree Barnes (four catches for 113 yards against Duke on Sept. 13, 2008) to reach 100 yards receiving and is the first slot back to go over 100 yards receiving since Eric Roberts caught two passes for 105 yards and one touchdown against Central Michigan on Nov. 22, 2003.
Curry is the first Navy player to catch two touchdown passes in a game since Oct. 10, 2007, when Reggie Campbell caught two touchdown passes in the Mids' epic 48-45 double overtime victory over Pitt.
His 85-yard touchdown reception from Ricky Dobbs against Ohio State is the third-longest pass play in program history.
Since 2003, Navy owns an 18-6 (.750) record in games following a loss.
The Mids have lost back-to-back games just six times during that seven-year span:
2005 Maryland and Stanford 2006 Rutgers and Notre Dame 2007 Rutgers and Ball St.; Wake Forest and Delaware 2008 Ball State and Duke 2008/09 Wake Forest (bowl game) and Ohio State
Navy has not lost three-straight games since the 2002 season when the Mids lost 10 in a row.