Saturday, September 6, 2014

Owls Drop Home Opener to Navy, 31-24

A little over a week after Temple lit up Vanderbilt Stadium, the team seemed to dim a little in a 31-24 loss to Navy. The defense could not contain Navy QB Kennan Reynolds and the Midshipmen's explosive offense in the Owls home opener, in front of 28,408 fans.

In their 11th meeting, and the last one with Navy as independent team, the Owls allowed the Midshipmen to rush for 487 yards on 63 carries, while Reynolds was 4-8 for 30 yards and no touch downs in the air. Reynolds also led Navy in rushing, with 21 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns.

For the Owls, the game started off strong, as Sharif Finch was able to force a fumble during Navy's first possession and recover the ball in the end zone. That play gave the Owls their second defensive touchdown of the season, which doubles the amount the team had last year. Finch also had another fumble recovery in the second quarter.

On the ground, the Owls were able to rack up 156 yards, with Walker leading the herd, with 13 carries for 71 yards. Walker also went 29-49 and threw for 240 yards and one touchdown to Romond Deloatch in the very back of the end zone. Originally, the call was that Deloatch was out of bounds, but a review of the play saw the Owls collect a score.

Walker threw his first interception of the season, when his pass was intercepted by Parrish Gaines in the end zone less than a minute left in the first. From that turnover, Navy was able to capitalize and score their second touchdown of the game.

On the receiving end of the ball, Kenny Harper led the team with eight receptions for 64 yards, while also picking up 55 yards with 13 carries. Jalen Fitzpatrick caught five passes for 59 yards and one touchdown. Kickoff returner Khalif Herbin was able to return the ball for 61 yards on four kicks, with his longest being an 18 yarder in the second quarter.

Defensively for the Owls, LB Nate D. Smith led the team with 13 tackles (9 UA-4 A), while LB Tyler Matakevich had 11 solo tackles and a forced fumble. However, the struggles were there for Temple, as they allowed 27 first downs, 24 of which were rushing plays and didn't force a Navy punt until early in the fourth quarter. Reynolds proved to be the "tremendous player" that head coach Matt Rhule described earlier this week.

In total, the Midshipmen had a total of 517 offensive yards, which is almost double what Temple allowed in week 1 at Vanderbilt. Navy also had three fumbles, all of which were recovered by Temple. On their second field goal attempt, K Nick Sloan missed wide right from the Temple 26-yard line, which allowed the Owls to try and get down the field to tie the game before the quarter ended.

For the Owls, freshman P Alex Starzyk had another set of great numbers, as he had three punts of over 50 yards, with one being 62 yards. The special teams continued to be consistent, as freshmen K Austin Jones made three PATs and one field goal from 28 yards. Last week at Vanderbilt, Starzyk had a 58 yard punt and Jones was the leading scorer with 10 points (two field goals and four PATs).

Temple went four of five in fourth-down conversions and scoring in three of their four trips to the end zone. The team, however, committed six penalties for 56 yards. The Owls only had one fumble, which was committed by OL Brendan McGowan as the Owls attempted to score with laterals with no time left in the game.

With this game, CB Anthony Robey's consecutive start streak ended. As one of the eight seniors on the team, Robey had started the last 25 games. The series with Navy is now 6-5 in favor of the Midshipmen. Both Navy and Temple are 1-1 on the season.

The Owls will not see game action next week, with the first of their three byes. The resume play at home against Delaware State on September 20.

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