If you like Stone Age, down-in-the dirt, defensive-style football, then yesterday's Virginia Tech-Navy game in Annapolis was your cup of tea.
The Hokies (3-2) needed only two big offensive plays -- a 16-yard pass from Jim Druckenmiller to split end Jermaine Holmes to start the second quarter, and Dwayne Thomas' 28-yard tightrope run down the left sideline in the closing minutes -- to beat the Midshipmen, 14-0, before a crowd of 31,114.
Navy (2-3), coming off an exhilarating 30-9 victory at Duke last Saturday, seemed to be moving in reverse against Virginia Tech's lightning-quick defense -- ranked sixth in the nation.
"They were awesome," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said of his defense, which limited the Mids to 188 yards. Navy managed only 126 yards rushing after averaging 273 in the first four games.
No one was more frustrated than Navy quarterback Chris McCoy, who ranked 10th in the nation, averaging 133 yards rushing.
Repeatedly hemmed in by end Cornell Brown, tackle J. C. Price and linebacker George Del Ricco, McCoy ran in his own shadow most of the afternoon. Time and again, he was dropped for losses.
At halftime, the sophomore from Georgia had minus-22 yards on 13 carries. He finished with a single yard rushing.
"Defensively, Virginia Tech is as good as anyone we've played this year," said Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie. "They're very physical and quick. They showed that beating Miami. But offensively, we just didn't execute."
Navy's biggest gain of the day -- a 37-yard first quarter run by sophomore fullback Tim Cannada -- gave the Mids a first down on the Virginia Tech 34. This drive fizzled when McCoy was tossed for a 12-yard loss on third down.
In the second quarter, a fumble recovery by tackle David Viger set up a first down on the Virginia Tech 30. But Navy again failed when Jason Covarrubias' 46-yard field-goal attempt missed.
The vastly improved defense kept Navy in the game, limiting the Hokies to 273 total yards. But the Mids could not mount a serious threat in the second half.
"Watching films of Navy, we knew McCoy was a great athlete who looks for the defense to overplay the run," said Price, a senior from Northern High in Calvert County.
"But our attack front did an excellent job coming off the ball."
The Hokies' first touchdown drive was kept alive by a roughing-the-kicker penalty. It gave Tech a first down on its 39.
Using Holmes as his chief target, Druckenmiller moved his team to the Navy 16. On the first play of the second quarter, Holmes got behind defensive back Robert Green to catch Druckenmiller's pass in the right corner of the end zone.
"We couldn't blame the penalty for that score," said Weatherbie. That was a good call. They still had to drive 65 yards, and it was up to our defense to stop them."
Next for Navy
Opponent: Air Force
Site: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
5) Yesterday: Beat Texas-El Paso, 56-46.