Temple Owls devastate Navy, 34-10, in American Athletic Championship
Annapolis, Maryland – The Temple Owls got off to a smoking, hot start scoring 21 points on their first three possessions and shut down the vaunted Navy triple option to defeat the No. 19 team on their home turf, 34-10. The Owl defense held the Navy rushing attack to 168 yards well short of the average rushing yards of over 350 per game. It was the first loss for the Naval Academy who had won 14 straight games on their home turf at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. In the second period, standout Navy QB Bill Worth and SB and team captain Toneo Gulley both suffered injuries that ended their Navy football careers.
The Mids will play the final regular season game of the 2016 college football season next Saturday against archrival Army in Baltimore. They will take the field with third string QB Zach Abey who stepped in to play for the first time this season to take over for Worth in this championship game.
The Temple Owls drove 75 yards for a 15-yard sweep left by Jahad Thomas for a touchdown the first time they had the ball. Navy attempted to convert a first down on fourth and seven at the Owl 44 on their first series, but the Owls took over on downs from their 41. A 23-yard TD pass from QB P.J. Walker (16 of 25 for 199 yards, 2 TDs) to WR Ventell Bryant who ran around a Navy defender put TU ahead 14-0. Before the period ended, Temple slammed RB Darryl Bonner to the ground and recovered a fumble to start their next drive from their 30. Bonner suffered an injury and di not return to play.
Guest Game Analyst George Lazarides (Johns Hopkins) who had joined be for Navy opener when they hammered Fordham, 52-13, noted, “No pushups.” He saw the plebes of the Brigade pump out 284 each that day after each Navy score. The Mids in the stands didn’t have many opportunities to leave their seats on this day against the Eastern Division Champion Temple Owls of the AAC.
Walker connected with WR Kirk Kirkwood on a long pass to the left pylon of the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown pass. The Owls were in command of the Navy, 21-0. Two series later, Navy QB Bill worth left the game with what was reported to be a broken bone in his foot as did Gulley on the same play. Neither would return. Third team QB Zach Abey got pulled into service. Could he do what Worth did in the first game of the season and pick up the offense after Tago Smith went down to a season-ending injury? Abey led the Mids to a score on his first series as Bennett Moehring made good on a 27-yard FG to avert a shut-out, 21-3. Later in the period, Abey’s pass was picked by CB Nate Hairston at the Temple Owls’ 49. With 21 seconds remaining in the first half, PK Aaron Boumheri booted a 48-yard FG to give the Temple Cherry and White a 24-3 lead into halftime.
To start the second half, Navy’s defense was able to keep the Owls out of the end zone, but its dominating offense that 61 points the last three games was held in check very effectively by the TU defense. They clogged up the middle for the FB dive. They hit the QB on every play, and their quickness on the outside shut down the pitch on the option. Temple HC Matt Rhule and DC Phil Snow had their defense wall prepared. They had adjusted well since their season-opening loss to Army that GGA and tailgater extraordinaire Brian Donnelly attended with us as well as today’s game (we’re still enjoying his Old Bay Spice chicken wings at our tailgates. They’re great!). Army FB Andy Davison tore apart the middle of the TU defense. Will this be any kind of an omen for next week’s Army-Navy clash?
Navy showed a little life late in the third when a buck and spin move from the one (that my late high school HC Joe Molitoris would have been proud of after all those drills) by Abey finished off a 64-yard drive to give the Mids a glimmer of hope for a fourth quarter comeback trailing now, 24-10. The ensuing Navy kick-off, however, went out of bounds to set TU up from their 35. Boumerhi put up another three on the board with his 48-yard FG. The next Navy drive turned over on downs, and the next resulted in a pick by TU DE Haason Reddick to give the Owls possession at Navy’s 34. RB Ryquell Armstead finished the drive on the second play after the turnover with a 30-yard TD to seal the Temple 2016 AAC Championship, 34-10. The Temple fans celebrated, and the teams met on the field to sing their respective alma maters with both bands. The Brigade sang theirs for the first time in quite a while, something that they desperately want to avoid next weekend.
The Temple Owls may end up playing its next game in Annapolis to the delight of many Temple fans living within driving distance. Navy-Marine Corps hosts the Military Bowl sponsored by Northrop-Grumman when the ACC plays an ACC team. Our guess is that TU would play Georgia Tech. That would be interesting for a few reasons. Tech is coached by former Navy HC Paul Johnson. It would be a homecoming of sorts for him, and he would be bringing his triple option offense to Annapolis. For Temple, that could be an advantage after having faced both Army and Navy this season who run the same offense that they’ve already been tested against. They seem to have figured it out now. However, this may be taken into consideration by the bowl committee if GT is possibly a choice. The ACC may want to offer a different team in their conference.
Next week, we follow Navy to Baltimore to battle Army for the 107th meeting between these two rivals. Navy leads the series now 60-49-7. The Mids have won the last 14 games in this series. For Collegefootballfan.com, it will be the 11th time since 1972 that we’ve been in attendance. This will be our fifth consecutive in this series. Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo will be giving Soph Zach Abey a lot of reps in practice this week as his new starter. Against an improved Army team (6-5) under HC Jeff Monken, this game looked challenging already for the Mids to win their 15th in row in this historical rivalry, greatest college football rivalry in the nation.
This season, we attended five games played by the Mids winning four including the 46-40 upset win over No. 6 Houston. We also watched Army play three times beating Temple in the opener before falling to Buffalo on the road and to Air Force at home. We will be prepping for a typical frigid Army-Navy weather forecast according to the weather people. Nothing new, although last year was a surprising seasonably warm game played in the 70s in balmy Philadelphia. Historically, we always expect Army-Navy weekend to the coldest of any given year whether we go or not. Last year the heavily-favored, bowl bound Mids got by the Cadets, 21-17. This one is guaranteed to be just as close, but the win could go to either team. We still say, “Go Navy!”