Improved Army looked sharp defeating Temple, 28-13
Philadelphia – In the season opener for both teams, the Cadets of Army looked sharp in defeating Temple, 28-13, nine months after their latest defeat on the same turf where they lost to Navy. For Army coming off a 2-10 season from a year ago, it was a stimulating victory. For the Owls coming off a 10-4 season in 2016, the loss was a tragic letdown. For Collegefootballfan.com, this was our second game of the very young season and our first FBS game of 2016.
The keys to Army’s win over the Owls were the toughness and quickness of its defense led by Senior LB Jeremy Timpf who garnered eight tackles. Army effectively stopped runs around both ends throughout the game and held TU to 105 net yards on the ground. Four sacks and significant pressure on QB P.J. Walker (12 of 26 for 168 yards) along with tight coverage in passing situations resulted in three INTs for the Black Knights of the Hudson. Offensively, the Cadets seemed to have an answer to a much needed power runner. Soph FB Andy Davidson rambled through the Owl line 22 times gaining 121 yards and scoring two TDs. Army totaled 329 yard on the ground while its two QBs combined to complete one pass each for a total of 15 passing yards. Junior QB Ahmad Bradshaw started ahead of Soph Chris Carter, a surprise to us as we saw Carter lead the Cadets against Rutgers and Navy in a close one at the end of last season. The Junior added 64 yards and a touchdown on his 16 carries. Temple all-American Athletic conference RB Jahad Thomas sat out the evening with a hand strain injury suffered in an earlier practice and was replaced by Soph RB Ryquell Armstead. He led the Owls in rushing with only 77 yards of their 105.
Neither team scored until 28 seconds into the second period when Armstead put the finishing touch on a 78-yard Owl drive with a six-yard scoring run off left tackle to lead 7-0. Army countered right off the bat with a 75-yard drive with Bradshaw finding room up the middle for a seven-yard TD run to even up the score. Carter replaced Bradshaw for the next and his only series of the game. The Cadets booted the ball away from their 16, but it was partially blocked and rolled out of bounds at the Army 23. The defense displayed its staunchness at this point holding Temple to a 41-yard field goal by Austin Jones. The score stood at 10-7 in favor of the Owls at halftime before the Owl Marching Band and Dance Team put on another one of their entertaining performances in front to the 34,005 in attendance.
The first score of the second half came much more quickly than the first one even though Army was very methodical with its triple option. The Cadet drive started from its 23 and Davidson scored from the three with 8:18 left in the third to take a 14-10 lead. Temple got into FG range on its next possession as Jones converted a 27-yard FG to put Temple within one before the game entered the final 15 minutes.
Again staying on the ground and converting on a fourth and one at the 25, the Black Knights drove 81 yards culminating in a TD as Bradshaw pitched to Taylor Campbell on an option right for a 12-yard scoring play. With a 21-13 lead, a FG attempt by Army PK Mitch Howard failed wide right and Temple took back over from their 30. On the next play, Walker was sacked by DT John Voit for a four-yard loss. With more pressure up front, LB Ken Brinson intercepted to give Army possession at Temple’s 36. The Black Knights extended their lead as Davidson’s 17-yard charge through the middle made it into the end zone with only 2:28 remaining and only a possible Miracle for the Owls to comeback. Again under pressure, Walker threw into tight coverage and this time CB Mike Reynolds intercepted to seal the upset victory for Army (1-0) with 1:39 left.
It was quite an unexpected defeat for the Owl fans who only a year ago filled Lincoln Financial Field for the Owls opening day upset over Penn State, their first victory over the Nittany Lions since 1941. That game and a good showing at home losing to Notre Dame on their way to a 10-4 season left the Temple fans optimistic for another good season and an improving program overall. I believe there is still hope for them when Jahad Thomas returns, and we will see them again on other Friday nights this season hosting South Florida and at UConn in what should be key AAC Eastern division battles. Temple came in as two-touchdown favorites against an Army team off a 2-10 record in 2015. Army impressed Guest Game Analyst Brian Donnelly and me. It should be an even greater battle when we see them play Navy in December in Baltimore. Davidson got better as the game went on running through around and over people for some tough yards. Bradshaw, however, needs to get out of his “catcher’s crouch” position quicker under center, and slot backs need to run harder or avoid contact better before contact is made by defenders. Both teams will surely improve as the season continues.
The Cadets go back to West Point to host Rice (0-1, losers to Western Kentucky, 46-14) next Saturday. We will see the Cadets again at Buffalo on September 24. Temple faces FCS Stony Brook (1-0) next week back at the Linc before heading up to Happy Valley for a shot to knock off the Nittany Lions for a second year in a row. Staying in Philly on Friday night, Collegefootballfan.com headed to Annapolis to watch Navy and Fordham open their seasons the next morning.
Extra Point: Dan and his sister Eileen met me at an offsite lot to tailgate before the game at a local food distribution logistics center. They had gotten a couple of Famous Philly cheese steaks from the well-known Patsy’s establishment north of the stadium on their way in. None of us were as impressed as we had been before. Eileen also said that the person working there was kind of nasty. We’ll go to Gino’s next time.
Though our parking lot was convenient near the stadium and cheaper than others, a tank truck pulled up to fill up a load from a storage tank right across from us. It was loud and hard to have normal conversation. As we left for the game after eating and a few drinks, the loading was finished and it got a lot quieter. The driver apologized and said he was surprised that we’d stayed. Nice guy. Live and learn, until next time.