DURHAM, N.C. -- Navy's nine-game losing streak against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents included a 33-point loss to Duke in Annapolis last year. The Blue Devils, meanwhile, had won 20 straight at home against nonconference foes.
Last night's game was a homecoming blowout all right, but not the one Duke anticipated, as the smaller, quicker Mids hustled to a 30-9 rout before a stunned crowd of 29,400 at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Just as Duke (2-3) underwent a bowl game renaissance a year ago under Fred Goldsmith, Navy has a new and improved product under first-year coach Charlie Weatherbie. The Mids (2-2) have two September wins against Division I-A foes for only the second time in 15 years, and their first winning season since 1981 is conceivable.
"That's as good a team effort as I've ever been associated with," said Weatherbie, the head coach at Utah State the last three years. "If we continue to grow, we have the opportunity to be a pretty good football team."
A 14-point underdog, Navy came up very large last night. The Duke defense couldn't keep up with the option offerings of sophomore quarterback Chris McCoy, who lost a fumble on the Mids' first play, but then engineered scoring drives of 80, 61, 68 and 74 yards. Navy's 377 yards rushing included 144 by McCoy and 67 by Omar Nelson, a junior fullback from Silver Spring.
McCoy's counterpart, Spence Fischer, couldn't get his team into the end zone at all, as Duke was held to a season-low 270 yards.
"They [Navy] outplayed us completely," said Goldsmith, whose team was within a touchdown of Maryland with five minutes to go in its previous game. "They were more disciplined. It should not have been that way."
There was a silver lining to McCoy's early fumble, as Duke drove 35 yards to the Navy 1, but had to settle for a field goal. There was a similar sequence in the third quarter, as Duke had a chance to get within 10 points after a botched Mids' pitch. On second-and-one from the 2, linebacker Clint Bruce sacked Fischer for a 5-yard loss, and the Blue Devils trudged off with another field goal.
After both of those stops, the offense quickly drove for touchdowns, as Navy revisited the quick-strike capability it enjoyed in a season-opening 33-2 win at Southern Methodist.
"We want everyone on this team to know that if you make a mistake, it's OK," said Bruce, a junior from Garland, Texas. "If we give up a big play, we know the offense will match the other team score for score."
McCoy, the sophomore from Houston who played defensive back on the plebe team last year, drove Navy 80 yards in eight plays on its second possession. The last 44 came on a reverse pitch to receiver Matt Scornavacchi, who got a fine block from Bryce Minamyer.
Navy needed only an 11-yard run by McCoy after a Fischer fumble to go up 14-6, and his 36-yard completion to slot back Matt Schemm was the big play on the TD drive that opened the second half. After the Bruce-led goal-line stand, McCoy raced 56 yards and Nelson the final 18 to give the Mids a three-touchdown cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
Next for Navy
Opponent: Virginia Tech
Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Yesterday: Beat Pittsburgh, 26-16