WEST POINT, NEW YORK – Aaron Boumerhi laid on his back with his hands on his facemask as Army West Point’s sideline rushed the field.
The sophomore kicker’s 27-yard field goal attempt to extend overtime missed wide left, and the Owls (3-5, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) lost 31-28 to Army at Michie Stadium. The Black Knights (6-2) became bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1989 and 1990 seasons.
Temple held a 28-21 lead with one minute, 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Needing to travel 79 yards for a touchdown, Army replaced senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw with sophomore Kelvin Hopkins Jr., who is a better passer.
Hopkins completed five of his eight attempts for 68 yards, including a 16-yard back-shoulder throw to senior wide receiver Jermaine Adams with one second left to tie the game. Army, which predominantly runs a triple-option offense, entered Saturday’s game with 38 pass attempts.
“The kid just made some really nice throws and kept the drive going,” coach Geoff Collins said. “And he ended up hitting a nice ball on the end on the back shoulder when we brought the all-out pressure.”
Army junior running back Darnell Woolfolk started overtime with three carries for 19 yards. Temple made a third-down stop and held Army with a 29-yard field goal by senior kicker Blake Wilson.
Temple started overtime with a 5-yard run by sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Wright out of the Wildcat formation. Four plays later, on second-and-5 from Army’s 10, redshirt-junior quarterback Frank Nutile, who made his first-career start, missed redshirt-junior wideout Ventell Bryant on a throw to the left corner of the end zone.
Junior running back Ryquell Armstead ran for no gain on third down before Boumerhi’s miss.
Temple had a chance to take a two-possession lead on a drive that started with 11:25 left in the fourth. Boumerhi’s 51-yard field goal split the uprights, but Temple snapped the ball late and received a delay of game penalty. Instead of taking a two-score lead, the Owls needed senior Alex Starzyk after they moved back five yards.
After the punt, Army tied the game at 21 on a five-play, 80-yard drive. On third-and-2 from Temple’s 44-yard line, Woolfolk took a handoff on a dive play to the end zone for his third touchdown of the day. He finished with 15 carries for 115 yards.
After a second-quarter Army touchdown drive that started at the Owls’ 28-yard line and was instigated by a blocked punt, Temple’s defense held the Black Knights scoreless for 37 minutes. Woolfolk’s run broke that stretch and put his team back in the game.
“[We] shouldn’t have even let it get to that point, to overtime,” said sophomore linebacker Shaun Bradley, who had a team-high 10 tackles. “Should have stopped them to begin with when it was 21-14, and I let up that run. We should have stopped them then. So it’s on me.”
Before third-and-goal from the 2 with less than three minutes left in the third quarter, redshirt-junior offensive lineman Jaelin Robinson committed a false start. Nutile threw a pass into the back of an offensive lineman’s head after the loss of yardage.
Nutile received an intentional grounding foul, and Boumerhi missed a 32-yard try off the right upright with 1:52 left in the third. The Owls had first-and-goal from the 2 and didn’t score.
Three offensive linemen, including Robinson, made their first starts. Robinson started at right tackle, redshirt junior Gordon Thomas started at center and redshirt junior James McHale started at left tackle before moving to left guard when redshirt senior Leon Johnson entered.
The new-look line allowed two sacks and helped Temple rush for 207 yards and three touchdowns.
Armstead was limited due to a toe injury on his left foot last week against Connecticut, so 10 players carried the ball. He had 15 carries for 146 yards and two touchdowns against Army.
His second score, the go-ahead touchdown before Army’s final regulation drive, came on a third-and-8 play with 1:38 left. Armstead took the handoff, ran into the line of scrimmage near his left guard, bounced to the outside and turned the corner for a 21-yard touchdown run.
Armstead had his highest rushing output since Oct. 21, 2016, against South Florida, when he ran for 210 yards and two touchdowns.
“He fought through a lot of pain, and he’ll tell you too that the O-line played unbelievable too,” Nutile said. “He made some unbelievable runs, but they were really moving guys. They were communicating. They were scraping when they were pulling and stuff like that. It was fun to watch those big guys go to war today.”
Temple fell behind 14-0 before it scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. With 10:05 left, Wright had a 50-yard touchdown run out of a Wildcat formation where the offensive line set up out wide to the right. Senior wideout Adonis Jennings caught a 37-yard pass on a post route with 3:38 left.
Nutile went 20-for-29 for 290 yards and a touchdown in his first start. Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi, who started the first seven games of the season, was unable to play because of a “lower extremity injury,” as Collins said Tuesday.
The two will compete for the start against Navy on Nov. 2 at Lincoln Financial Field after the team’s bye week.
“It’s going to be one of those situations where you’ve just got to evaluate it, see where we are,” offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said. “We get a week to regroup and a week to get healthy and hopefully we get everybody up front back and we get Logan healthy. And I think if they are both are able to play, then that’s a positive and just continue to try to build depth.”