Boston College game marks turning point; Contest viewed as tossup after predictable loss, win; Navy notebook


Navy makes an important stop Saturday in its quest for a winning season.

After a predictable loss to highly ranked Georgia Tech and a predictable victory over long suffering Kent, the Midshipmen play host to a Boston College squad still stinging from last season's 32-31 defeat in which Navy rallied from a 28-10 deficit in the fourth quarter.

"I've been saying this is another game, one Saturday to the next, you know, but there is no doubt this is a major test, a big turning point," said Navy tackle Hoot Stahl.

Free safety Chris Lepore added: "No doubt, this is a very pivotal game."

A victory could be a springboard for the Midshipmen, who go on the road for tests at Rice and West Virginia the following two weeks. It is one of those tossups needed for a good start before the heavier artillery arrives.

Coach Charlie Weatherbie is downplaying the vital nature of this one, which is expected to draw an overflow crowd to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

"Every game can go either way," he said. "We've got to execute and take care of the football."

Weather forecast

With Hurricane Floyd possibly on the way north, rain and wind is possible Saturday, and Weatherbie believes such conditions would favor the Eagles.

"Rain plays into their hands," he said. "They're bigger, stronger, more physical and try to mow you down. Up front, they average over 300 pounds with guys 6-6 and 6-7. It won't affect our offense much but it will the defense."

BC coach Tom O'Brien, a former Navy player and offensive line coach, said his side "would like to throw to be effective," although the Eagles rushed for 350 yards in a thrilling one-point victory over Baylor two weeks ago.

"Bad weather makes that a little tougher. They're a four-down team all the time because it makes the option a little more effective."

Idle hands

Boston College has been idle for a week since Baylor's Kyle Atteberry missed an extra-point attempt in overtime to finally secure a 30-29 BC victory.

Will the week off be a factor?

"It can either help or hurt," said Weatherbie. "It can mess you up because you try to do too much. It gives the coaches too long to think about things."

Said O'Brien: "We spent last week trying to get ourselves to be a better football team. We didn't really think about what we were going to do until Friday or Saturday."

Stahl ready for Hovan

Stahl, a junior from Raleigh, N.C., will shoulder some of the responsibility for containing Eagles defensive tackle Chris Hovan, a potential All-American.

"You like to play against great players," said Stahl. "I enjoy testing myself against them. They were in a different defense last year and I didn't see much of him [Hovan]."

Weatherbie pointed out that Navy center Terrence Anderson gave Hovan fits last year before the Eagles moved their line stalwart from nose guard to tackle.

"He was weary," said Weatherbie. "But their defensive tackles [Hovan and Mike Willetts] are as good as we'll see. They're big, strong, quick guys."

Et cetera

Tickets for the game are available at Ricketts Hall or by calling 1-800-US4-NAVY. A crowd of 31,000 is expected and temporary bleachers will be installed. Navy's 12 opponents currently have a 7-12 record with Kent, Rice, Rutgers and Army still winless. Surprisingly, the other with a losing record is Notre Dame (1-2). Only wide receiver Harry Spencer (back), who missed the first two games, and running back Terence Coleman (hamstring), who missed the Kent game, are not expected to play because of injury.

Pub Date: 9/15/99

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