Former Iolani standout Ray Stowers lunged forward for a Utah first down yesterday.
Utah holds off Navy
SAN DIEGO » With defeat seemingly at hand, Navy cut a 10-point Utah lead to three and threatened to tie or win in the final seconds in this third annual Poinsettia Bowl last night.
After Zereb Singleton recovered an onside kick, Navy had the ball on its own 42-yard line. The Utes' Joe Dale then picked off Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada with 26 seconds remaining at the Utah 31 to end the threat. That, in turn, assured a 35-32 Utah win before 39,129 in Qualcomm Stadium.
Though resilient and resourceful, the Mids could not overcome a physical and speedy Utah defense. Navy compiled 438 yards of total offense, but the Mids were stopped at critical points in the game, including a key fourth-down effort in the final 2:17 of the game.
"We had opportunities to win this game and didn't get it done," Ken Niumatalolo, the former Hawaii quarterback and assistant, said after his debut as Navy head coach. "We did not take care of the football, and when you play a team like Utah -- fast and physical -- you better play your best."
The Navy defense, strong in the opening half, fell suspect to the passing and running of Utes quarterback Brian Johnson. His athleticism and opportunistic pass receivers took advantage of Navy's suspect pass defense.
Johnson overcame a slow start to complete 20 of 25 for 226 yards and one touchdown. The 6-foot-1 junior from Baytown, Texas, also rushed for 70 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Yet it was the Mids secondary, soft on receivers, that enabled Johnson to lead a Utah offense to three touchdowns on conservative possessions from the middle of the third quarter into the fourth. By the time Johnson scored on a 19-yard run with 12:47 left in the game, Utah went out to a 28-17 lead and hung on at the end to capture the school's fifth straight bowl victory.
"I saw they were playing back a little and took advantage of that," Johnson said. "You just take what the defense gives us, and our receivers were able to make plays after catching the ball."
Despite losing a first-quarter possession in the red zone, Navy showed resiliency. Eventually, 10 unanswered points in the second period allowed Navy to take the lead at intermission.
Though the Mids offense had pretty much their own way throughout the season, they met a defense third in the nation in allowing just 15.5 points per game. The Utes defense played as advertised, but Navy didn't help itself.
Following a Ross Pospisil interception, Navy drove to the Utah 4, but Mids running back Reggie Campbell fumbled the ball away. Later in the second period, Navy place-kicker Joey Bullen missed wide left on a 50-yard field-goal attempt and Utah dodged another bullet.
Following the missed attempt by Bullen, Utah proceeded to drive 67 yards on 11 plays to take the lead. That's when running back Darrell Mack bolted in from 5 yards out with 8:42 remaining before halftime to give Utah a 7-0 advantage.
That's when Navy responded.
Kaheaku-Enhada, a junior from Kapolei, capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. That tied the game at seven with 5:14 left before halftime.
Utah 35, Navy 32
Utah--Mack 5 run (Sakoda kick)
Navy--Kaheaku-Enhada 1 run (Bullen kick)
Navy--FG Bullen 39
Navy--Kettani 43 run (Bullen kick)
Utah--Brooks 23 run (Sakoda kick)
Utah--Richards 40 pass from B.Johnson (Sakoda kick)
Utah--B.Johnson 19 run (Sakoda kick)
Navy--S.White 10 pass from Kaheaku-Enhada (Kaheaku-Enhada run)
Utah--Mack 1 run (Sakoda kick)
Navy--Singleton 58 pass from Kaheaku-Enhada (Bullen kick)
RUSHING--Utah, Mack 22-76, B.Johnson 11-69, Brooks 2-25, Louks 6-25, Stowers 2-8, Wilson 1-7, Wesson 1-3. Navy, Kettani 12-125, R.Campbell 7-58, S.White 9-57, Kaheaku-Enhada 18-52, Ballard 6-21, Barnes 1-8, Singleton 3-6, Bryant 1-1, Veteto 1-(minus 12).
PASSING--Utah, B.Johnson 20-25-1-226, Louks 2-2-0-12. Navy, Kaheaku-Enhada 7-14-1-122.
RECEIVING--Utah, Hernandez 5-63, Richards 4-61, Mack 4-31, Brown 3-41, Brooks 3-14, Godfrey 1-14, Wesson 1-10, Sims 1-5, Wilson 0-(minus 1). Navy, Singleton 2-64, R.Campbell 1-29, O.Washington 1-14, S.White 1-10, Ballard 1-9, Kettani 1-(minus 4).