1:30 PM ET, November 1, 2003
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Navy's vaunted ground game proved too much for Tulane, and assured the Midshipmen that this won't be another losing season.
Quarterback Craig Candeto rushed for 140 yards and three touchdowns in Navy's 35-17 victory Saturday over Tulane.
Navy, ranked first in the nation in rushing offense, gained 357 yards on the ground. Candeto, who carried 18 times, scored on runs of 1, 28 and 8 yards.
"We executed better today than we did last week," Candeto said, referring to a 21-17 loss to Delaware. "The offensive line did a great job."
Navy (6-3) beat Tulane for the first time since 1999 and assured itself of a non-losing season for the first time since 1997 -- the team's last winning one at 7-4. Tulane (3-6) lost for the fifth straight time.
The Midshipmen have not been to a bowl game since 1996. Among the team's remaining three games are rival matchups against Notre Dame and Army.
"Right now, we want to win number 7," Navy coach Paul Johnson said. "If we do that then we have accomplished all of our goals, except one (of beating Army) and we cannot do that until the end of the year."
Kyle Eckel added 120 yards on 26 carries, marking the second time this season two Navy runners topped 100 yards in a game.
Navy also committed a season-high four turnovers, but its defense countered with two interceptions of Tulane quarterback J.P. Losman and a fumble recovery.
"I thought our defense did a great job today, they ran a lot of snaps but didn't have any big plays. We made them be patient," Johnson explained. "I think we have a little more speed on defense this year."
Despite the turnovers, Navy's offense was extremely potent. The Midshipmen finished with 414 yards total offense and had scoring drives of 68, 95, 65 and 63 yards.
"I think they had a hard time stopping us on offense, unless we self-destruct," Johnson said of Navy's four turnovers. "Craig (Candeto) ran the offense well. He made some big plays and managed the game well."
For Tulane, Losman completed 25 of 38 passes for 198 yards a touchdown, a 6-yard pass to Tristan Smith.
Tulane's Mewelde Moore gained more than 100 yards rushing for the fifth straight game, gaining 115 yards on 19 carries. He had 55 yards on six catches.
Roydell Williams caught 10 passes for 85 yards for the Green Wave, which had 359 yards total offense to Navy's 414.
The Mids jumped to a 14-0 first-quarter lead on the way to a 21-10 halftime lead.
Candeto capped a 68-yard drive with a 1-yard run with 8:54 left in the first quarter. He then scored on a 28-yard run with 6:10 left after Eddie Carthan's pass interception and 22-yard return gave Navy the ball at the Tulane 35.
Tulane closed to 14-7 in the second quarter on Losman's pass to Smith and drove to Navy's 5 on their next drive. On fourth down, the Wave went for a TD instead of a field goal and failed.
Navy then drove 95 yards, as Trey Hines scored from the 4 with 4:53 left in the half.
Tulane's Barrett Pepper kicked a 41-yard field goal to close the half to make it 21-10, but the Mids scored on their first two possessions of the second half to go ahead 35-10.