Although Temple University football’s offense moved the ball consistently and outgained Navy in total yardage, they missed multiple opportunities to score more points in the red zone, a contributing factor to their 31-29 loss Saturday evening.
Though the Owls (0-1, 0-1 The American Athletic Conference) fell to Navy (2-2, 2-0 The American) after allowing the Midshipmen to lead the entire game, they were in a position to tie late in the fourth quarter.
With two minutes and 55 seconds remaining, the Owls trailed Navy by eight points. Graduate student quarterback Anthony Russo looked to his right and threw to graduate student wide receiver Branden Mack standing behind the line of scrimmage.
Mack then looked down the field and lofted the ball to redshirt-sophomore tight end David Martin-Robinson for a 35 yard gain, setting up the Owls on the Navy two yard line.
Mack finished the game with one touchdown and 80 receiving yards, while Martin-Robinson finished the game with 72 receiving yards.
Temple’s offense utilized a fast tempo and downfield passing concepts in the middle of the field to drive moving the ball against the Midshipman defense.
Sophomore running back Re’Mahn Davis capped the drive off with a one yard touchdown run making the score 31-29. Davis finished the game after recording 97 total rushing yards on 23 total carries.
With just a minute left in the game, head coach Rod Carey went for a two point conversion in order to tie the game. Russo’s pass to Davis was knocked away by Navy sophomore linebacker, Terrell Adams.
“In that moment, I have to be a smart football player to make sure no matter what I fight, scratch and claw to either run the ball in myself or give someone a chance to make a play in the endzone,” Russo said.
Russo finished the game completing 21-of-30 passes for 206 yards and one touchdown. The Owls’ offense produced 407 total yards in the game compared to Navy’s 299.
The offense lost some key opportunities in the endzone. On Temple’s first drive with the ball, Russo overthrew redshirt-junior wide receiver Jadan Blue on an attempt from the eight yard line, forcing Temple to kick a field goal.
Russo could have brought Temple within one score before going into the half, but sophomore Navy striker John Marshall intercepted his pass intended for Blue.
“Scoring touchdowns in the red zone is our biggest thing. For me to throw an interception in the late 2nd quarter and on the first drive miss Blue on a wide open touchdown, which would have given us seven points instead of three,” Russo said. “Those are the first two things that stand out to me.”
The Owls offense also missed an opportunity to score a two-point conversion due to a penalty. Blue caught a pass from Russo but Blue stepped out of bounds before catching the ball.
A flag was thrown for illegal touching, the catch did not count resulting in the Owls being down 28-23 instead of 28-25.
Russo finished the game with four carries for 20 yards and two touchdowns despite having two total rushing touchdowns last season.
“If I’m able to get four, five, six yards on a carry, and keep those linebackers honest, well then the next time I put the ball in the running backs gut, they might be hesitant if I’m going to pull it or if I’m going to give it,” Russo said.
The Owls plan to use this week to watch film from this game and figure out how to improve their scoring in the red zone, Russo added.
Their next game will be home on Oct. 17 against University of South Florida.