PHILADELPHIA, PA. 9/6/2014 – The Temple Owls trailed by 17 points in the third quarter. The Owls mounted a comeback that cut the deficit to 31 – 24 with just under ten minutes to play. The Cherry and White had an opportunity to get a late touchdown, but it ended 10 yards short. Junior quarterback P.J. Walker took the snap with one second showing on the clock, broke out of the pocket and headed up field, but was hemmed in by the Navy defense. Temple tired laterals, but eventually fumbled ending the game. The Midshipmen held on to take home the victory in front of 28,408 at Lincoln Financial Field.
“I was trying to run around and make a play,” said Walker.
“I thought I was going to get a first down and stop the clock. My instinct was to cut back, which was what I should have done and out ran them. There is nothing I can do about that now.”
The Owls rally started with 2:08 remaining to play at their own 25 yard line after a missed field goal by the Midshipmen. With no timeouts the Cherry and White drove to the Navy 24 on 13 plays. With 16 seconds on the clock Temple had wide receivers going to the end zone, but Walker took off, and could not score. Owls Coach Matt Rhule expected Walker to throw the ball.
“That’s a play we practice every week,” Rhule said. “We had four verticals in the end zone. The quarterback has to throw to the end zone. That play is indicative of how we played today. We throw that ball to the end zone and let the receivers fight for it.”
For most of the game Temple was trying to catch Navy. The game started with the Owls sophomore defensive end Sharif Finch recovering a fumble for a touchdown giving his team an early 7 – 0 lead. The Midshipmen answered behind quarterback Keenan Reynolds who ran for 129 yards in the first quarter which led to 10 points. Reynolds ran for a 48 yard touchdown and had a 56 yard gain. Navy started the second quarter with another touchdown to take a 17 – 7 lead at the 13:49 mark. The Owls got a late touchdown pass from Walker to sophomore wide receiver Romond Deloatch with 3 seconds remaining. The pass was ruled incomplete, but a review reversed the call giving the Cherry and White a touchdown. Navy led 17 – 14 at halftime.
The Midshipmen started the second half with two touchdowns on their first two possessions. The first was by Reynolds on a 3-yard run, which was the 44th touchdown of his career tying the junior for the second-most in school history. Junior running back DeBrandon Sanders scampered for 21 yards and a score to give Navy a 31 – 14 lead with 5:47 left in the third quarter.
“There was a point that we were down 31 – 14, and I thought we were going to quit,” said Rhule. “I challenged them not to quit. Then all of a sudden, we came back. We have to learn that.”
That comeback started with a fumble recovery by junior linebacker Tyler Matakevich. Freshman kicker Austin Jones made a 28 yard field goal. Early in the fourth quarter Walker threw his second touchdown pass of the game, a 13 yard strike to senior wide receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick at the 9:49 mark, capping a 10-play, 88 yard drive in 3:39.
The Owls defense has been getting takeaways this season, 10 so far. They added three more on fumble recoveries. However the defense did surrender 487 rushing yards. Reynolds ran for 173 yards and 2 touchdowns. Midshipmen slot back Geoffrey Whiteside scored a touchdown and ran for 60 yards. Fullback Noah Copeland ran for 84 yards. Temple prepared for the option offense run by Reynolds, but could not stop it.
“It’s tough, but we prepared for it all camp and all last week,” said junior linebacker Nate D. Smith who led Temple with 13 tackles.
Walker ran for 71 yards and threw for 240 yards, completing 29 of 49 attempts. Senior running back Kenneth Harper caught 8 passes for 64 yards. Fitzpatrick snagged 5 for 59 yards.
The Owls made it interesting, but masked some of their deficiencies in the contest according to Coach Rhule. There were too many mistakes that had to be overcome, and the defense needed to play stronger.
“We didn’t play good defense at all, “Rhule said. “We were out physicaled. I don’t mind losing to a better team, but not being out physicaled. We couldn’t stop them.”
The next outing will be on September 20, a home contest against Delaware State.
Written By: Glenn Papazian