A strong showing

Published 8:58 pm Saturday, October 22, 2011

East Carolina wide receiver Lance Lewis celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Navy in the first half Saturday in Annapolis, Md. East Carolina won 38-35. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

ANNAPOLIS, Md.  — Dominique Davis had just set two NCAA passing records, and the East Carolina senior was looking for some props from the man he had just dethroned.
Davis connected on all 26 of his first-half throws to extend his streak of pass completions to 36 straight over two games, and the Pirates rode his record-setting performance to a 38-35 victory over skidding Navy on Saturday night.
Davis broke the single-game record of 23 straight completions, set in 1998 by Tee Martin of Tennessee against South Carolina and tied in 2004 by Aaron Rodgers of California versus Southern California.
Davis completed his final 10 passes against Memphis last week, so his stunning first half against Navy gave him 36 completions in a row — breaking the NCAA mark of 26 set in 2004 by Rodgers, now a star with the Green Bay Packers.
“I hope he calls me and tells me congratulations,” Davis said. “Aaron Rodgers is one of my favorite quarterbacks because he’s a guy just like me, coming from a junior college and going to D-1. Now he’s in the NFL doing great things. It’s an honor.”
After going 26 for 26 for 251 yards before halftime, Davis’ streak ended when he misfired on his first attempt in the third quarter. He finished 40 for 45 for 372 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Funny thing is, it wasn’t until he reached the locker room that Davis learned just how special his numbers were.
“I had no idea until after the game,” the 6-foot-3 quarterback said. “When they told me, I was like, ‘Wow, really?’ It’s amazing, but when you do your job and put the ball in your receiver’s hands, that’s what happens.”
Coming into the game, the Pirates led the nation with 23 turnovers. In this one, East Carolina (3-4) didn’t give the ball away.
But the game wasn’t decided until Navy’s Jon Teague hit the right upright on a 42-yard field goal try as time expired. Seconds earlier, a leaping Matt Aiken had his hands on a potential touchdown pass, but lost his grip on the ball as he came down in the end zone.
“I thought he broke the plane and went down with the ball,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “But that doesn’t matter; they called what they called. We have to make that field goal.”
Navy (2-5) has lost five straight, its longest skid since 2002.
“This is a tough loss for this team and this program,” Niumatalolo said.
The Midshipmen trailed 31-21 with 14:53 left before backup quarterback Trey Miller threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Turner and a 37-yard strike to Matt Aiken for a 35-31 lead with 7:51 to go.
Davis then moved East Carolina 77 yards in 15 plays, a drive that ended with Reggie Bullock’s third TD of the game, a 1-yard run with 2:14 remaining.
Bullock ran for 104 yards; Lance Lewis had nine catches for 80 yards and a touchdown; and Danny Webster had six receptions for 81 yards for East Carolina.
Davis entered with a 68.5 percent completion percentage this season, and he has completed at least 30 passes in six of his last nine games. A junior college transfer, Davis threw for 3,967 yards and 37 TDs last season and completed 64.5 percent of his passes.
Many of his 26 first-half completions were short flares, but nine of the those passes resulted in double-digit gains, including a 33-yarder to Webster and a 23-yarder to Andrew Bodenheimer.
“That’s our offense. We take big shots, we take little shot, whatever,” Lewis said.
Navy starting quarterback Kris Proctor was knocked out of the game with a left elbow injury with 7:01 remaining in the second quarter. Proctor was hit in the pocket by Matt Milner, who was penalized for roughing the passer.
Miller came in and lost a fumble three plays later. Davis then orchestrated an eight-play drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Michael Bowman for a 14-7 lead.
After a Navy punt, Davis completed six straight passes around a 3-yard run by Bullock and Michael Barbour kicked a 35-yard field goal as the half ended. Barbour earlier missed field-goal tries of 43 and 32 yards.
Navy’s Marcus Thomas took the second-half kickoff 90 yards to cut the gap to 17-14, but a 1-yard touchdown run by Bullock restored the 10-point cushion.