WASHINGTON - As Navy cornerback Rashawn King raced toward the end zone after scooping up a fumble in the first quarter of yesterday's EagleBank Bowl at RFK Stadium, an interesting thought went through his head.
"I'm thinking I've got to get those yards that I didn't get against Pitt, everybody's been telling me," said King, who had a 91-yard return on an interception against Pittsburgh this season. "I was glad I got those back. I've never been in the end zone before. I felt like Shun White feels a little bit."
King's 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Wake Forest helped put Navy ahead 10-0, but the Demon Deacons won, 29-19.
For King, a senior, it marked the first game since the death of his father, Drexel, two days before the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia on Dec. 6. King returned to Annapolis last week to take finals and prepare for the Demon Deacons.
"From the beginning, just being back with the guys was the biggest thing," King said. "Coming out of the locker room for the last time, that was really exciting. It was a heartfelt moment. Getting the fumble, just being able to contribute was huge."
Said defensive coordinator Buddy Green, "When he scooped up that ball, I literally had to hold back tears."
King nearly did it again later in the first half. With Navy leading 13-0, Wake Forest fullback Kevin Harris fumbled after a 10-yard gain. King picked it up again and went in for the touchdown, but Harris' fumble was ruled to have been caused by the ground.
Asked whether he thought the play was going to stand, King said: "I didn't. It would have been nice, but he was down."
King tried to find his mother in the stands after he reached the end zone, but he couldn't see her. King credited his mother's strength in helping him get back onto the field after his father died of a heart attack. He also credited White.
"I was watching the Army-Navy game with my mom and seeing her excitement - she wasn't the biggest football fan, but she really loved Shun White giving his shout-outs during the game - I think it did really pick the whole family up," King said.
No comment from Green
Green declined to comment on a report that he was interviewing for the job at Army, which fired head coach Stan Brock after two seasons. The Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., reported that Army athletic director Kevin Anderson came to Washington to interview Green and offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper.
"I don't want to comment on it right now; later if we could," Green said after yesterday's game. "We just finished a tough loss out here. My thoughts right now are in this locker room with these seniors."
Green, 55, has been at Navy since 2002 and was previously a head coach for six seasons at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
The inaugural EagleBank Bowl had its share of ups and downs, but the event drew an announced 28,777 to yesterday's game. (Because Army has the tie-in for next year, the event would need another team with local ties to help fill seats.)
"I think they are going to hit a home run," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. "I don't know if we've been anywhere with as many things to do as in D.C. It was just a great experience for us."