TEMPLE TOPS NAVY 34-26
Temple scored on their first six possessions of the game to build a 21-point lead on Navy and then held on to win 34-26 on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial. Quarterback Frank Nutile threw four touchdowns as part of an efficient night where he completed 22 of his 30 passes for 289 yards. Adonis Jennings had five catches for 127 yards and caught two of Nutile’s touchdown passes while his teammate Keith Kirkwood brought in seven passes for 87 yards and a score. The Owls (4-5, 2-3 American) defense, facing a team that runs the triple option for the second game in a row, held the Navy (5-3, 3-3 American) offense to 136 yards on the ground which is 240 yards less than their FBS-leading average.
In the game, something had to give, both teams – the participants in last year’s American Athletic Conference Championship game – came into the contest with two-game losing streaks. The Owls two by a total of seven points while the Midshipmen lost their pair by a total of 13 points.
Temple got off to a fast start, their opening drive, highlighted by a 29-yard run by Isaiah Wright, stalled after they had a first-and-goal at the Navy four-yard line. David Hood was stopped for no gain on first down and Nutile missed on two throws, this brought out Aaron Boumerhi, who kicked a 22-yard field goal.
Navy’s Malcolm Perry took the ensuing kickoff back 58 yards to set the Midshipmen up at the Temple 36, from there they got one first down but had to settle for a 48-yard field goal by Bennett Moehring.
The Owls soared down the field on the throwing arm of Nutile, who completed all five of his passes on a six-play, 84-yard drive. He connected with Kirkwood three times and Jennings twice, the second time on a 40-yard touchdown. The Owls, who scored all of 16 points in the first quarter in their first eight games, now had 10 in this one.
The Temple defense forced a punt and the offense took over on their own 12. This time they were more balanced, they ran in seven times and again Nutile completed all five of his passes. The last one went to Kirkwood for an eight-yard touchdown.
The Midshipmen would use the rest of the half – over nine and a half minutes – to methodically move down the field but would just get a 22-yard field goal by Moehring as time expired in the half.
After a bizarre start to the second half where Navy’s Zack Fraade was ruled to have call for a fair catch on the kickoff, the Midshipmen started inside their five-yard line and they quickly punted to the Owls.
Taking over at their 40, the Owls were swiftly into Navy territory thanks to a third down pass to Randle Jones that got the first down and 15 more yards after a penalty on the Midshipmen. On the next play, Nutile and Jennings connected again, this time for a 34-yard score.
Finally, Navy was able to get in the end zone but it took some trickery. They had a third-and-goal at the Temple five-yard line, the direct snap went to Darryl Bonner who flipped it to Perry on a reverse and he found quarterback Zach Abey all alone in the end zone.
The Owls would answer with another balanced drive (six passes and five runs) that would consume over five minutes. Nutile ended it with his fourth touchdown of the night, this one a three yarder to Jake Robinson.
Midway through the fourth quarter, a 33-yard field goal by Boumheri extended the Owls lead to 34-13 but behind Garret Lewis – the backup quarterback who came in for Abey, who left after getting hurt on a pass that was intercepted by Delvon Randall – the Midshipmen rallied. Lewis threw a pair of touchdowns but Navy, despite intercepting Nutile on a tipped pass that set up Lewis first scoring throw – 16-yards to Brandon Colon, could never get the extra possession they needed to tie the score.
“Even with our three close losses,” said Temple head coach Geoff Collins whose team’s last three losses were by a total of 14 points, “we’re still a really good football team and the things we’ve learned helped propel us tonight. The big thing we talked about having to finish and there at the end we had to defend two onside kicks.”
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