Bitter loss for Navy


POSTED: Sunday, November 29, 2009

There's no way to watch Navy and ignore the Rainbow connection.

Head coach Kenny Niumatalolo and offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper were part of UH's glory years back when the Rainbows won the Holiday Bowl in 1992. At Navy, their quarterback, Ricky Dobbs (wearing No. 4 like Jasper did), looked like a hybrid of Jasper, a quarterback/slotback, and quarterback Michael Carter.

Dobbs, a 6-foot-1, 198-pound junior, tied the NCAA single-season mark for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback last night with his 23rd, but it wasn't enough. Hawaii shut out the Midshipmen in the second half, denying the visitors on their final drive of the game for a 24-17 win.

Navy (8-4) already had a berth in the Texas Bowl locked up, but was surprised in more ways than one. UH's defense, playing smart and disciplined, allowed only two runs of more than 16 yards, including a 53-yard midline keeper by the elusive Dobbs on the final play of the first quarter. But Hawaii's punishing, swarming defense took a toll.

“;They were maybe like Temple or Delaware,”; Dobbs said of UH's defense. Temple ended Navy's five-game win streak four weeks ago.

“;Hawaii's a hard-hitting team. After the pitch, I definitely felt the hits. I know I'll feel it tomorrow,”; he said.

After rushing for 102 yards in the first half, Dobbs picked up just 25 yards on 12 carries in the second.

With the nation's No. 3 rushing attack sputtering, Navy faced several third-and-long situations, finishing 1-for-7. Using audibles became impossible, too. Dobbs couldn't beat UH's 12th man, a roaring crowd of 36,834, and was forced to burn three timeouts prematurely in the second half.

“;It was real tough. Guys couldn't hear me. I was quite surprised,”; he said.

Navy began its final series with 5:41 remaining at its 16-yard line. Six of its first seven plays of the drive were on the ground, and the Midshipmen never got in sync against a blitzing Warriors defense. The drive ended at midfield after two sacks as time expired.

“;Hawaii had a nice plan and executed well,”; Niumatalolo said. “;The crowd definitely played a factor. We just got a little frazzled. Offensively, we didn't show up all night.”;

The former UH quarterback didn't have mixed feelings about losing to his alma mater.

“;This is bitter. I'm happy for Hawaii, but our guys are crushed,”; he said.

Navy, averaging 282.5 rushing yards per game coming in, finished with 248 on 48 carries.