- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
For Head Coach Jim Owens and the 49 survivors of his death-march training techniques, it was the loss of more than a ball game. It was the loss of a way of life. It was inconceivable that a team built on the notion of victory through suffering should not be able to punish a prima ballerina like Navy's Joe Bellino into submission and defeat, or that it should lose through fumbles and penalties and quaint field tactics. For a good share of the players, tears replaced words. Even Owens, who occupied himself for 30 minutes after the game with the parson's task of administering condolences, seemed hollow in his summation of the afternoon's catastrophe.
"They contained us," he said. "We made more mistakes than they did and they contained us."
It was a painful defeat, but perhaps more painful still was the official U.S. Navy analysis of the game. "The boys beat the men," the critique said. "We have more heart than they do."
Since the same idea had carried the Huskies through the Rose Bowl last January, Navy would have been far kinder merely to admit it was the stronger team.
Coach Owens went into the game with a handicap that proved too much to overcome. His tigers had fiddled their way through two giveaway games in which they had rolled up 96 points against inept enemies. To undo the effects of this powder-puff schedule, the bulletin board in the Washington locker room was festooned during the week with newspaper clippings and magazine stories, a superbly eclectic collection in which Washington was invariably damned and Navy always praised.
It was gentle, passive brainwashing, like feeding a police dog chocolate eclairs, then trying to make him a killer by telling him that eastern writers all mistake him for a cocker spaniel.
And yet Washington looked its fearful best in the first quarter, when it scored on a 31-yard pass from All America Bob Schloredt to Halfback Don McKeta, a chief of the kill-or-be-killed school of thought. But before the quarter was out, Joe Bellino had a touchdown on a dive over guard and Navy was only a point behind.
The game grew fierce as it ground along. Four times Navy was penalized for personal fouls and the entire Washington bench periodically took to its feet to shout at the referees. But Washington was penalized for the same nasty doings on two occasions, and both teams had touchdowns called back.
Late in the final period, with Washington leading 14-12, Schloredt bobbled a snap from center as he prepared to punt, and Navy took over deep in Washington territory. With just 14 seconds remaining, Navy End Gregory Mather kicked a 31-yard field goal for the Navy victory. Washington left the field beaten and bitter, but no longer complacent.
At Evanston, Ill. a volcanic upheaval shook the Big Ten as Iowa completely ruined Northwestern 42-0 and took one giant step toward the Rose Bowl. It was a brutally cold-blooded affair that saw Iowa win by the biggest margin it had rolled up over a Big Ten team since 1922. Working with micrometerlike precision, Iowa never failed to control the game, only once allowing Northwestern to penetrate beyond the Iowa 33-yard line. Said disconsolate Northwestern Coach Ara Parseghian, whose star Quarterback Dick Thornton was on the bench with injuries: "When you lose your passer, one of your best runners, your punter and your leader—that you've worked with so long, so hard to make the team go—you really feel it. But that's the best Iowa team we've played by far."