HONOLULU -- Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel apparently sensed that this would be a breakthrough season for the long-struggling Midshipmen, and commissioned NFL Films to do a documentary on the history of academy football, capped by 1996.
"It couldn't have had a more perfect ending," said Lengyel, sharing in the euphoria of yesterday's dramatic, 42-38 victory over California in the Aloha Bowl.
"We had come-from-behind victories early in the year against SMU and Air Force, and played a great offensive game against zTC Boston College. But this game today provided the kicker."
In the two weeks they had to prepare for the game, Cal coaches fretted over how to stop Navy's time-consuming, triple-option offense in which the passing threat was viewed as only incidental.
But the Bears were caught off balance by Navy's air attack, which produced 395 yards on 14 completions.
Most perplexing was the triple-stack formation the Midshipmen employed in the fourth quarter, when Ben Fay directed two long touchdown marches to overcome a 38-28 deficit.
"We really didn't expect them to pass as much as they did," said Cal linebacker Matt Beck. "It proved the most difficult offense we had to deal with all year."
Credit Navy offensive coordinator Paul Johnson, who is leaving to become Georgia Southern coach.
"We just wanted to give them a different look because Cal was playing a lot of man-to-man coverage," Johnson said. "I guess we confused them."
Senior slotback Cory Schemm could easily have been voted Navy's MVP rather than Chris McCoy. Schemm made several spectacular catches, turning his five receptions into 194 yards.
In the first quarter, he turned a tipped pass by a Cal defender into a 52-yard gain, setting up Navy's first touchdown. And he sparked the winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter with a 52-yard reception.
Said Schemm: "I've been playing football for 18 years. Honestly, I would trade all those games and memories for this last one. It was like a dream come true."
Among the Aloha Bowl records broken yesterday: Navy's 646 total yards broke the Kansas record of 548 against UCLA in 1995. The combined total of 1,080 yards bettered the mark of 943 set by Kansas and UCLA in 1995.
Pub Date: 12/26/96