Matt Rhule became Temple’s first coach with consecutive 10-win seasons as Temple stunned the prolific Navy rushing offense on Saturday, 34-10. The Owls hoisted the American Athletic Conference championship trophy on Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for the first time, and with selection Sunday just a day away- the team should receive a huge boost in favoribility from this convincing win.
Temple’s offense set the tone early on as the game’s most outstanding player Phillip Walker orchestrated a 12 play, 75 yard drive that knocked over 5 minutes off of the game clock on the Owls opening drive. It was the 8th straight game Navy allowed an opening drive touchdown, and Walker wasn’t done there. The senior went on to cap the Owls next two drives with touchdowns- both through the air, one to Ventell Bryant and one to Keith Kirkwood.
Just like that the Owls were leading 21-0.
With a lull in production and a scoreless 3rd quarter for the Owls, the team needed a big showing from the counterparts on the other side of the ball to stay in contention.
The Owls defense did exactly that. Phil Snow’s unit came well prepared to deal with the triple option attack of Navy averaging 342 yards a game, and they held the midshipmen to just 168 yards. Will Worth left the game for good early in the second quarter, and the Navy offense had extreme trouble moving the ball effectively. Backup QB Zach Abey rushed for 111 yards just a week ago in his first action of the year, and it was his duty to keep pace against a red hot Temple defense.
A defense that played the Midshipmen like very few teams have this season, holding the unit to season-lows in points and 3rd down percentage. Navy came into the game averaging over 40 points per game, and were converting a nations best 57% of 3rd downs. With noticeable confusion for most of the team’s pivotal plays, Temple forced Navy to a 43% (6 of 14) mark on 3rd down.
Before the game, it was a projected battle of time of possession, and ultimately the edge went to Temple. In particular, Temple’s 4th quarter drive of a whopping 7:01 ended with freshman walk-on Aaron Boumerhi’s most important field goal of the season, which deflated a once jovial crowd in Annapolis and extended Temple’s lead to 27-10.
The Owls were able to keep possession through 3 turnovers from the defense, exceptional play from the duo of Jahad Thomas and Ryquell Amstead- who scored 2 touchdowns combined in addition to 136 yards.