Navy drove 48 yards to Brad Stramanak's 1-yard touchdown run with 5:20 left in the game and defeated Bowling Green, 27-20, before a homecoming crowd of 25,732 yesterday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
It is the first time the Midshipmen have won a homecoming game since they beat Yale, 41-7, in 1988, and the first time they have won back-to-back games since beating Toledo and Delaware in 1990.
A week ago, Navy (2-1) defeated Eastern Illinois, 31-10.
Even after Stramanak's go-ahead touchdown, the drama continued.
Bowling Green drove deep into Navy territory, but the threat ended when Navy defensive back Chris Hart leaped high and intercepted a Ryan Henry pass at the Navy 5-yard line with 1:08 left.
Junior quarterback Jim Kubiak was the individual star for Navy. He completed 28 of 34 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns. The completion percentage (82.4) was the best of his career.
"I don't think [NFL standout] Ronnie Lott could have helped our secondary with the amount of time Kubiak had to throw," said Bowling Green coach Gary Blackney.
"This was a big win for Navy," said fourth-year coach George Chaump, whose teams were 1-10 each of the past two seasons. "Our team is starting to jell. We beat a very good football team today."
Bowling Green was playing without nine players, six of them starters, including star tailback Zeb Jackson. They were suspended by Blackney for breaking team rules.
"Bowling Green's new men stepped in and played a very good game," Chaump said. "Nobody could have done better than their tailback [Courtney Davis, who ran for 74 yards and a touchdown]."
The visitors (1-2) drove 95 yards through Navy in the first period for the first score of the game, a 10-yard touchdown run around right end by Davis and the Falcons led 7-0.
Navy came back five seconds into the second period when Kubiak threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kevin Hickman. Dave Gwinn's conversion tied it at 7.
Bowling Green's Brian Leaver kicked a 27-yard field goal to put the Ohio school ahead, 10-7, with 10:23 left in the half.
But Gwinn topped that with a pair of field goals to put the Mids up at the half 13-10.
They widened the lead to 20-10, as tailback Jason Van Matre caught an 11-yard touchdown pass to culminate a 12-play, 81-yard drive with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
It looked like clear sailing for the Mids. But two field-goal attempts -- one kicked and one faked -- enabled Bowling Green to tie the score.
On the fake, holder Randy Hecklinski got up and shovel-passed the ball to Darius Card, who ran 16 yards to the end zone to tie it, 20-20, four minutes into the final quarter.
Navy roared right back, however, as Kubiak took the team downfield mainly on passes to Jimmy Screen, Kevin Hickman and Van Matre, who took a screen pass and ran to the Bowling Green 3.
Screen appeared to have caught a touchdown from there, but a 15-yard penalty against the Middies put the ball back to the 18-yard line.
That's when Kubiak completed a 16-yarder to Matt Scornavacchi. From there Stramanak, who finished with 53 yards on 17 carries, banged in for the game's final points.
"That took a lot of character," said Chaump, "to come back like that after having a touchdown taken away."
Navy co-captain and linebacker Javier Zuluaga strengthened his bid for All-America honors by again making 15 tackles. He also made a key interception. "It feels great to win two in a row," said Zuluaga.
Or as his defensive mate Hart said after his game-saving interception, "It's going to feel better to make it three in a row."
NEXT FOR NAVY:
When: Saturday, at New Orleans
Yesterday: Lost to Mississippi State, 36-10.