Defense avoids repeat of Army loss against Navy

The Owls held Navy to a season-low 136 rushing yards in their 34-26 win at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday.

Sophomore linebacker Shaun Bradley makes a tackle on senior slot back Josh Brown in Temple's 34-26 win against Navy at Lincoln Financial Field. | HOJUN YU / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple implemented a new policy.

Anytime a player forces a turnover in a game or practice, the player hands the ball to any coach on the team who then has to do 10 pushups.

When junior safety Delvon Randall dove near Temple’s sideline to make his fourth interception of the season, he chose coach Geoff Collins during Temple’s 34-26 win against Navy on Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Temple (4-5, 2-3 American Athletic Conference) led Navy, 31-13, at the end of third quarter. But the Midshipmen threatened the Owls late in the fourth.

“We could’ve lost that game, it was on the defense,” Randall said. “Our offense did everything they can. Towards the end of the game, we started letting up big plays and touchdowns and we just gotta come in, correct that and not let it happen again.”

The Midshipmen scored two touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the contest. Navy went on a 10-play, 80-yard drive to make it a one-possession game.

Junior quarterback Garret Lewis, Navy’s backup, connected with senior wideout Tyler Carmona on an 8-yard touchdown pass to make the score 34-26 with two minutes, 12 seconds remaining.

In Temple’s game against Army West Point on Oct. 21, the Owls let the Black Knights send the game into overtime with one second remaining.

But redshirt-senior wideout Keith Kirkwood prevented any possible comeback when he recovered junior kicker Bennett Moehring’s onside kick to seal the game.

“We weren’t going to let that happen again,” said redshirt-senior defensive lineman Sharif Finch, who led Temple with two sacks. “We went out there on the hands team, I knew they were trying to kick it to the guy that I was on. So I went out there and handled that so that wouldn’t happen.”

On Tuesday, Collins said playing Army, which also runs a triple-option offense, and Navy back-to-back had its advantages and disadvantages because the Midshipmen could watch how Temple defended Army.

On Navy’s first possession, the Owls came out in a similar defensive package to what they played the majority of the time against Army, Collins said.

But on Navy’s second and third possessions, the Owls went into an odd 3-4 defensive scheme, a look Temple only used once against Army, Collins said.

Collins said after the third possession the Owls called plays based on Navy’s offensive packages. Temple held the Midshipmen to a season-low 136 yards on the ground. The Owls also held Army to a season-low in rushing yards. Navy leads the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing yards per game, and Army is second.

Junior quarterback Zach Abey, who ranks sixth in rushing yards per game in the Football Bowl Subdivision, only gained 60 yards on 25 carries. He left in the fourth quarter with an injury.

“Salute to our coaches,” Randall said. “Against Army we played a certain defense, and then we knew Navy was going to watch Army because they’re a triple-option offense, so our coaches came back with a different gameplan.”

“Different blitzes, different stunts, different line movements because they check a lot,” sophomore linebacker Shaun Bradley said. “So every time they would check, we would check to sometime else so they wouldn’t know what’s coming.”

While Army runs more plays between the tackles, Navy likes to get its quarterbacks and tailbacks to the perimeter. Bradley thinks that approach played to Temple’s advantage because of the team’s speed at linebacker, he said.

Sophomore linebacker Sam Franklin and redshirt-freshman linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley each played defensive back in high school.

With the win, Temple is two wins shy of bowl eligibility. If Temple wins two out of its next three games, it would be the first time in program history the Owls earned bowl eligible status in four consecutive seasons.

“Each and every week we’re trying to go 1-0 for the seniors to get to a bowl game,” Randall said. “So this week is accomplished. We can enjoy it for the rest of the night, but tomorrow we gotta get back in the weight room, watch our film, so we can go 1-0 against Cincinnati.”

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