ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- A career day by quarterback Alan Polanco
and a missed extra point enabled Navy to beat Rice and become bowl
Polanco ran for a career-high 179 yards, and the Midshipmen
benefited from a botched fourth-quarter conversion in a 14-13
Rice (3-4) pulled to within one point with 4:41 left on an
11-yard touchdown pass from freshman Joel Armstrong to Ed Bailey,
but Brennan Landry missed the extra point and Navy (6-1) held on.
By becoming bowl-eligible with their sixth win, the Middies have
a chance to go to consecutive bowl games for the first time since
the 1980 and 1981 seasons.
"It's great for the kids," Navy coach Paul Johnson said.
"That was one of our goals at the beginning of the season. People
can talk all they want about our schedule or anything else, but
we're 6-1 and that is all I care about."
After going 2-10 in 2002, Navy went 8-5 last season and went to
a bowl game for the first time since 1996.
Landry's missed kick spoiled a fine comeback by the Owls, who
rallied from a 14-0 deficit behind freshman quarterback Joel
"He has to make extra points," Rice coach Ken Hatfield said.
"There are four parts of an extra point, the snap, the protection,
the hold and then the kick. Everything looked good from where I
was. It is a shame it came down to that, because we deserved a
After Armstrong replaced starter Greg Henderson with 4:40 left
in the third period, the Owls put together scoring drives of 80 and
69 yards. Armstrong ran for 86 yards on 13 carries, and Rice
finished with 223 yards on 53 attempts -- well below its top-ranked
average of 345.7 yards.
Navy's sixth-ranked rushing offense finished with 263 yards
rushing and 79 yards passing. Polanco's 179 yards rushing was most
by a Navy quarterback since 2001.
His 33 carries were also a career best.
"We could not run the ball inside. They were killing us
there," Johnson said. "But they didn't take away the quarterback
on the pitch."
Navy took a 7-0 lead with 44 seconds left in the first half on a
1-yard run by Frank Divis. The Midshipmen made it 14-0 with 4:40 to
play in the third quarter when Polanco hit Eric Roberts with a
37-yard pass over the middle. Roberts fumbled after being tackled
at the 2, but teammate Corey Dryden recovered the ball in the end
Armstrong entered on the next series and led the Owls on a
13-play drive for a touchdown with 12:30 left. He carried the ball
six times for 61 yards and scored on a 3-yard run.
On Rice's next series, Armstrong capped a 14-play march by
hitting Bailey for a touchdown. But the extra point went awry.