Snap Judgments: Navy at Temple (11.02.17)

Robert Cole/ALOST
All four touchdowns Temple wide receiver Adonis Jennings (17) has caught this season have come from at least 30 yards, including this 40-yard score to give the Owls the lead for good against Navy on Thursday night. (Robert Cole/ALOST)


akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief


PHILADELPHIA — Different cast members. New season. Same result.

Less than 12 months after it defeated Navy in the American Athletic Conference title game, Temple used a merciless passing attack to defeat the Midshipmen 34-26 in a primetime affair to keep its chances at making a bowl for a third consecutive season alive (4-5, 2-3 AAC).

Unlike the 34-10 victory in last year’s conference title game in Annapolis, a game where Temple ran for 189 yards, the Owls’ passing attack sunk the Navy in this most recent encounter. Temple quarterback Frank Nutile, starting for a second consecutive game in place of the injured Logan Marchi, threw four 289 yards and four touchdowns in helping the Owls open up a 31-13 lead after three quarters. Temple, who came into the contest ranked 112th in the FBS in scoring at just 20.9 points per game, never trailed in the contest as it scored over 30 points in a game for just the second time this season.

“We knew what a competitor he was,” first-year Temple head coach Geoff Collins said about Nutile after the game. “But just the command he had over the offense and his gamesmanship, I’m really proud of him.”

Nutile and the Owls’ offense looked to take advantage of the absence of Navy’s best cornerback, Tyris Wooten, who was suspended for the game for violating team rules. Late in the first quarter, Nutile found wide receiver Adonis Jennings on a deep pass down the left sideline for a 40-yard score, the first of two long scoring hookups between the two. That score broke a 3-3 tie and the Owls would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the contest.

On the fourth play of Temple’s first drive of the second half, Nutile and Jennings hooked up again for a 34-yard scoring pass to give the Owls a 24-6 lead.

After starting the season 5-0 and reaching the national rankings, the Midshipmen (5-3, 3-3) have now lost three straight, though the first two losses during that stretch were against teams that are currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, Memphis and UCF. Coming into the game leading the FBS in rushing yards per game (376), Navy only was able to amass 136 yards on the ground as the team had to play catch-up for the rest of the game once the first quarter ended.

“We don’t have any excuses,” said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. “We were rested. We had a lot of guys back [from injury]. “They beat the crap out of us.”

One of the players Navy returned to the field from injury was quarterback Zach Abey, who left the Oct. 21 game vs. UCF with a concussion. Abey was 6-of-9 passing for 111 yards tonight and scored the Midshipmen’s first touchdown of the game in the third quarter on a reception from five yards out from slotback Malcolm Perry, cutting Temple’s lead to 24-13. Abey, the sixth-leading rusher in the FBS who came into the game having set a school record with eight consecutive 100-yard rushing games, would later leave the game in the fourth quarter after being hit on a play in which he threw an interception. Abey was held to 60 yards rushing on 25 attempts.

Lincoln Financial Field had proven to be a home away from home for the Midshipmen, as, before tonight, they were 12-0 all-time at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles. Ten of those victories came against Army in the Army-Navy game, which will return to Philadelphia next month.

Temple now needs to win two of its last three games to qualify for a bowl, but it will be tough sledding; Two of the games are on the road (Cincinnati, Tulsa) while the home affair will be against undefeated and 18th-ranked UCF on Nov. 18.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from tonight’s game, with all photos taken by our senior photographer, Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 31 pictures in total.

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