On a brisk Saturday afternoon, Temple got their grittiest win of the season. Temple improves to 4-3 on the season and remains undefeated in conference play at 3-0 after a 24-17 victory over Navy.
Early on in the game Temple looked like they were going to strike first a couple of times due to miscues by Navy’s offense but failed to convert on first and goal from inside Navy’s one-yard line.
Temple’s second time in the red-zone, Isaiah Wright fumbled the football over to the Midshipmen leading to the first score of the game, a 24-yard field goal.
On the ensuing possession, Temple went down the field with ease thanks to a number of completions from Anthony Russo to Ventell Bryant, Randle Jones and Brodrick Yancy. The drive ended in Temple’s first touchdown and first career touchdown by Tyliek Raynor, who ran 15 yards in for the score.
Temple’s defense was struggling with the triple option from Navy, as on the following drive they gave up a 77-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 1-yard score by QB Garret Lewis.
Temple entered halftime down 10-7. They gave up 132 yards on the ground and let Navy convert four of seven third down attempts. In the first half, Temple was just one for three in the red-zone. Each team had four penalties entering halftime, they certainly looked to clean up their sloppy play.
Starting the second half, Navy received the kickoff and made short work of their drive going 75 yards on four plays in just 1:47 aided by a big run from Nelson Smith that gained 45 yards. Smith would cap off the drive 3 plays later with his first career touchdown, a rush for 12 yards.
For the Midshipmen, that would be all the points they would score on the afternoon. On Temple’s two drives following Navy’s touchdown, they kicked a 31-yard field goal and then after a big 40-yard catch from Ventell Bryant, Rob Ritrovato took the ball across the goal line on fourth and goal from the one-yard line, to tie the game at 17 a piece with 5:53 remaining in the third quarter.
Following Ritrovato’s score, Temple got a scare from Navy as on fourth down in Temple territory, it looked like Navy tried running the ‘Philly Special.’ The play ended with Malcom Perry in the end zone after scrambling around the field, though luckily for Temple they caught a huge break as Navy was called for an illegal block in the back that called the play back and forced Navy to punt.
The game stayed tied at 17 a piece for a few drives. Each team had their opportunities to score and get the upper hand in the matchup, but instead they traded punts and turnovers on downs. That is, until Navy punted the ball with 9:24 remaining in the game and Temple took possession.
On the first play of that drive, Anthony Russo launched a pass to Ventell Bryant down Temple’s sideline. Bryant caught it, and kept running, all the way for a 62-yard touchdown score to break the tie and prove to be the difference in the game.
That was Bryant’s first touchdown in about two years, so it had to have felt good for him to get back into the end zone.
“It felt great. It felt like I needed a game like this. All that I’ve been through, to finally reach the end zone after two years, it felt amazing. I’m glad I landed in the end zone today and help my team be victorious,” said Bryant after the game.
Bryant had himself quite a big game catching eight passes for 147 yards and the go-ahead touchdown. Anthony Russo, getting him the ball all day finished with 23 completions on 31 attempts with 300 yards passing, one touchdown and one late interception.
The team had to play running back by committee as Ryquell Armstead was inactive, made known just before kickoff. The trio of Rob Ritrovato, Jager Gardner and Tyliek Raynor combined for 26 carries, 114 yards and 2 touchdowns (Ritrovato and Raynor.) Russo even got in on the rushing game early in the game. He had five rushes for 15 yards, certainly something Navy was not prepared to see, as Russo has never run the ball much in any of his previous starts.
Malcom Perry, a key aspect of Navy’s offense was quieted with only 12 carries for 48 yards. While the real pain for Temple today was Nelson Smith, the RB rushed 18 times for 108 yards and one touchdown. Smith is the first Midshipmen to accrue over 100 total yards in a game this season that isn’t Malcom Perry.
With the win, Temple moves to 4-3 on the season and 3-0 in conference play. The Owls will look to add to their win streak next Saturday at home when they take on Cincinnati at noon for the school’s homecoming.