Rice 13

(3-4, 0-4 away)

Navy 14

(6-1, 4-1 home)

1:30 PM ET, October 23, 2004

Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD

1 2 3 4 T
RICE 0 0 0 1313
NAVY 0 7 7 014

Top Performers

Passing: A. Polanco (NAVY) - 79 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: A. Polanco (NAVY) - 33 CAR, 179 YDS

Receiving: E. Roberts (NAVY) - 3 REC, 64 YDS

Navy 14, Rice 13

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- A career day by quarterback Alan Polanco and a missed extra point enabled Navy to beat Rice and become bowl eligible.

Polanco ran for a career-high 179 yards, and the Midshipmen benefited from a botched fourth-quarter conversion in a 14-13 victory Saturday.

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 Armstrong.

"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 better fate."

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 zone.

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.