Owls defensive line struggles against Navy’s triple-option

Temple’s defense only recorded four tackles for loss despite Navy running the ball 60 times.

Graduate student defensive tackle Daniel Archibong (center) assists a tackle during the Owls' Military Bowl game against the University of North Carolina at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md. on Dec. 27, 2019. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With just more than five minutes remaining in the first quarter, Navy junior fullback Jamale Carothers converted on a fourth-and-goal from the one yard line, rushing up the middle for a touchdown to give Navy a 7-0 lead. 

This concluded a long 17-play, 75-yard drive that lasted nine minutes and 38 seconds, in which the Midshipmen did not throw a single pass.

Temple (0-1, 0-1 The American Athletic Conference), fell to the Navy Midshipmen (2-2, 2-0, The American) by a score of 31-29 in Annapolis, Maryland on Saturday night while giving up 251 rushing yards on 60 carries. 

The Midshipmen defeated the Owls using their repetitive yet effective triple option offense. All but two of their 62 offensive plays were designed runs. 

Despite the predictability of their offense, the Midshipmen ran for four rushing touchdowns, consistently moving the ball down the field against Temple’s defensive front.

Although the offense put up 29 points, the Owls’ defense allowed Navy too much margin for error. Once the Midshipmen took the lead, Temple was never able to catch up.

“They were struggling,” said head coach Rod Carey of the defensive linemen. “We’ve got to help them, and we will.”

Defensive tackle graduate student Daniel Archibong recorded just six tackles, including three that were solo, and redshirt-junior Ifeanyi Maijeh recorded only four tackles.

Last season, the Owls’ defense only allowed 158.9 rushing yards per game. Opponents only averaged 3.8 rushings per attempt last season but Navy averaged 4.2 yards per rush on Saturday night. 

Graduate student linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley, also one of the team’s recognized single-digit players, recorded 14 tackles, including one sack, in the game.

Temple’s players felt Navy executed their plays better than they did but also felt they were adequately prepared for the game, Graham-Mobley said.

But ultimately, Graham-Mobley was grateful to be back out on the field.

“It feels incredible to be able to play football again,” Graham-Mobley said.

Temple’s coaching staff believes there are positives to take away from the, but admitted they need to improve defending the run going forward, Carey said.

“We’ve got to correct those things,” Carey added of the team’s issues defending the run and miscues in special teams, among other imperfections.

The Owls’ next contest is Oct. 17, when they host the South Florida Bulls (1-3, 0-2, The American) at Lincoln Financial Field.

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