Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie gets doused with ice water
after the Midshipmen defeated Cal
yesterday in the Aloha Bowl.
All anyone could talk about after Navy rallied for a 42-38 victory at yesterday's Jeep Eagle Aloha Bowl was the stack formation Johnson dusted off with 10 minutes left in the game.
University of Hawaii football fans are well aware of the four receiver-set that has three players lined up in an I-formation to the wide side of the field.
In the 1992 season finale against Pittsburgh, Johnson used it to rally the Rainbows to a 36-23 victory. But on this sunny afternoon before 30,411 Aloha Stadium fans, Johnson swears it was just one part of a complete package.
The game-winning score came on a 10-yard run by reserve quarterback Ben Fay.
"We moved the ball all day against them in all of our formations. The only thing that stopped us in the second half were our two turnovers in the third quarter."
Johnson went with the stack when senior quarterback Ben Fay came off the bench to replace a struggling Chris McCoy with 10:38 left.
For some reason, Cal decided to play man-to-man in the secondary, something Johnson has always loved to see because the receivers can run the defensive backs away from the play.
"In that formation, we use the exact same plays we run in our other formations," Johnson said. "They were playing us man, so we were able to take three of their guys and put them on the wide side of the field."
Cal head coach Steve Mariucci conceded that the Golden Bears should have called a timeout to try to deal with what he called, "that goofy formation."
Instead, Navy went 80 yards on 10 plays for the first of two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Midshipmen lined up in it again and went 84 yards on six plays to take a 42-38 lead with 1:19 left in the game.
"I don't know if the formation won the game for us, but it did give us an emotional lift," Fay said. "When a defense first sees it, they aren't sure what to do.
"The funny thing is, we run the same plays. But now, instead of having a bunch of traffic in the middle of the field, you have three of their secondary guys away from the action.
"If they go man in that situation, we usually run away from it and get some big yards. You also can get some rubs off it in the secondary and get guys open in some one-on-one situations. It's tough to defense."
Cal came into the game with one of the nation's worst defenses. The Golden Bears said all week the spread option offense was tough to simulate in practice, and they weren't wrong.
Navy gained an astounding 646 yards, averaging 9.1 yards a play. Fay and McCoy combined to complete 14 of 21 passes for 395 yards.
The Midshipmen also rushed the ball 50 times for 251 yards to leave the California defense dazed and confused.
"I don't think they had any idea what was coming next," Navy head coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "Our offense can do that to you. It spreads you out.
"Everybody talked about Cal's high-powered offense. But we've always maintained this option offense isn't only a ground game.
Fay's heroics came shortly after Cal quarterback Pat Barnes
fumbled as he was tackled by Navy defender David Viger
as Barnes fought for extra yardage.
In the first half, Navy's defense couldn't make the same claim. Cal's version of the West Coast offense generated 35 points.
Golden Bears quarterback Pat Barnes completed 16 of 19 for 221 yards and three touchdowns in the opening 30 minutes. But after that, the one-dimensional attack went south.
Without a proven running game, Barnes struggled over the final 30 minutes, completing only 11 of 19 for 92 yards. The Bears managed a meager three points in the second half.
"We're just not balanced enough to win games like this," Mariucci said. The Bears rushed the ball 38 times for only 121 yards.
"Next year, we will be more balanced, either with the personnel we have, or with some new guys coming in. Navy's offense was very balanced and made the plays they had to to win."
Still, if Barnes doesn't fumble the ball deep in Navy's territory with less than two minutes remaining, Cal would have run out the clock and won it, 38-35.
"But it didn't work out that way," Barnes said. "Our defense came up with two turnovers in the second half and we didn't do anything offensively to capitalize on that.
"This is a tough way to go out. No senior likes to lose his last game. I enjoyed my time here. I just wish I could have made a big play to go out on a happier note."
Navy 7 21 0 14--42 California 13 22 3 0--38Scoring summary
Cal-O'Neal 100 kickoff return (kick failed), 0:13.
Navy-Cannada 7 run (Vanderhorst kick), 7:30.
Cal-Shaw 6 pass from Barnes (Longwell kick), 11:08.
Navy-McCoy 1 run (Vanderhorst kick), 1:17.
Navy-Scott 4 run (Vanderhorst kick), 5:02.
Cal-Bullard 20 pass from Barnes (Barnes pass to Benjamin), 9:05.
Cal-O'Neal 31 run (Longwell kick), 11:35.
Navy-McCoy 2 run (Vanderhorst kick), 14:21.
Cal-Shaw 20 pass from Barnes (Longwell kick), 14:55.
Cal-FG Longwell 41, 13:50.
Navy-Fay 2 run (Vanderhorst kick), 7:21.
Navy-Fay 10 run (Vanderhorst kick), 13:19.
A-43,380 (tickets distributed), 30,411 (turnstile).
Navy Cal First downs 25 24 Rushes-yards 50-251 38-121 Passing 395 313 Return Yards 16 37 Comp-Att-Int 14-21-1 27-38-0 Punts 2-43 4-53 Fumbles-Lost 1-1 1-1 Penalties-Yards 4-21 5-40 Time of Possession 31:11 28:49Individual Statistics
Rushing-Navy: O. Nelson 15-119, McCoy 19-61, Cannada 4-25, McGrew 3-13, Scott 3-13, Schemm 1-12, Fay 4-10, Plaskonos 1-(-2). California: O'Neal 22-78, Benjamin 1-32, Vera 2-10, Willis 5-2, Barnes 8-(-1).
Passing-Navy: McCoy 9-13-1 for 277 yards, Fay 5-8-0 for 118 yards. California: Barnes 27-38-0 for 313 yards.
Receiving-Navy: Schemm 5-194, Plaskonos 2-58, Cannada 1-25, McGrew 1-36, O. Nelson 1-13, Scott 1-15, Butts 1-28, Bryant 1-10, Heaven 1-16. California: Gonzalez 9-69, Benjamin 8-95, Shaw 3-39, Douglas 2-56, O'Neal 2-16, Bullard 2-23, Nartey 1-15.
Las Vegas Bowl
Dec. 19 at Las Vegas
Nevada 18, Ball State 15
Yesterday at Montgomery, Ala.
Blue 44, Gray 34
Yesterday at Aloha Stadium
Navy 42, California 38
Tomorrow at Memphis, Tenn.
Houston (7-4) vs. Syracuse (8-3), 10 a.m.
Tomorrow at Miami
Miami (8-3) vs. Virginia (7-4), 2:30 p.m.
Tomorrow at Tucson, Ariz.
Utah (8-3) vs. Wisconsin (7-5), 4 p.m.
Saturday at Atlanta
Clemson (7-4) vs. LSU (9-2), 3 p.m.
Sunday at San Antonio
Iowa (8-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-4), 3 p.m.
Monday at San Diego
Washington (9-2) vs. Colorado (9-2), 3 p.m.
Tuesday at Atlanta
Howard (9-2) vs. Southern U. (7-4), 7 a.m.
Tuesday at El Paso, Texas
Stanford (6-5) vs. Michigan State (6-5), 8 a.m.
Tuesday at Shreveport, La.
Auburn (7-4) vs. Army (10-1), 10:30 a.m.
Tuesday at Miami
Nebraska (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (10-1), 2 p.m.
Wednesday at Tampa, Fla.
Alabama (9-3) vs. Michigan (8-3), 6 a.m.
Wednesday at Jacksonville, Fla.
North Carolina (9-2) vs. West Virginia (8-3), 7:30 a.m.
Wednesday at Dallas
Brigham Young (13-1) vs. Kansas State (9-2), 7:30 a.m.
Wednesday at Orlando, Fla.
Northwestern (9-2) vs. Tennessee (9-2), 8 a.m.
Wednesday at Pasadena, Calif.
Arizona State (11-0) vs. Ohio State (10-1), 1130 a.m.
Wednesday at Tempe Ariz.
Penn State (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4), 3 p.m.
Jan. 2 at New Orleans
Florida State (11-0) vs. Florida (11-1), 3 p.m.
East-West Shrine Classic
Jan. 11 at Stanford, Calif.
West vs. East, 11 a.m.
Jan. 18 at Mobile, Ala.
North vs. South, 10:30 a.m.
Jan. 19 at Aloha Stadium
East vs. West, 11 a.m.