HOUSTON -- For a while last night, it looked as if Navy would have its way with Rice. But the Owls saved their best for last as Derek Crabtree's 31-yard field goal with 2: 27 to play lifted the host team to a 20-17, come-from-behind victory over the Midshipmen before 44,217 at Rice Stadium.
Navy (1-3) led by as many as 14 points in the first half, but was outscored 20-3 over the final 32 minutes.
"When you have a 14-0 lead, you have to put the dagger in them. You don't give them a chance for new life," Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "We turned the ball over too many times to win, and I thought we also got beat in the kicking game."
The Midshipmen were held to 85 yards rushing in the second half by the previously winless Owls (1-3) after racking up 185 yards on 22 attempts in the first 30 minutes.
The Mids' Raheem Lambert picked up 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns -- all in the first half -- on only six carries, and quarterback Brian Broadwater ran for 98 on 19 attempts, with all but 18 of his yards coming before intermission.
"We just didn't execute as well in the second half," Broadwater said. "We had chances, but we kept making mistakes and it cost us. It's frustrating, because this was a game we should have won."
The Owls moved 63 yards in 16 plays to put Crabtree in position for the game-winning kick. Rice quarterback Chad Richardson, who finished with a game-high 105 yards on 24 carries, ran for 18 yards and passed for 9 during the decisive drive.
The Midshipmen's final drive ended when Broadwater's pass attempt was intercepted by Rice's Joe Bob Thompson at the Navy 49 with 1: 05 to play.
Next for Navy
Opponent: West Virginia
Site: Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, W.Va.
When: Saturday, noon
Yesterday: Lost to Syracuse, 30-7