October 10, 2020 –
The football season finally began for the Temple Owls. They fell behind early, but rallied to get to within a two-point conversion from tying the game with 1:02 remaining in regulation. The pass was battled away and Temple lost the season opener to the Midshipmen of Navy 31 – 29 in Annapolis. It was not a win, but the team got to play again.
“It was incredible to be able to play football again,” said Temple linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley. “We were at a point where we thought we were not going to play at all this year. Now, we’re back at it and it feels great. We would like to have the outcome be a ‘W’ today, but some things don’t work out. We’re a resilient team and we will build off this.”
The Cherry and White trailed for most of the game giving up touchdowns on the first two Midshipmen possessions. However, the Owls got going on offense to stay in contention. Temple trailed 31 – 23 after Navy kicker Bigan Nichols converted a career-long 50-yard field goal. The Owls got the ball for the final time one score behind at their own 25-yardline. Late in the quarter at the Navy 37 yardline a trick play got the ball two yards from the goal line with 1:06 on the clock. Quarterback Anthony Russo pitched the ball back to Branden Mack to threw an option pass to tight end David Martin-Robinson. Running back Re’Mahn Davis crossed the goal line. The Owls went for two to tie. Russo looked for Davis out of the backfield, but Midshipmen linebacker Terrell Adams batted the pass away. Navy recovered the onsides kick and ran out the clock.
Temple fell behind early as the Navy scored on long time of possession drives: a 9:38 capped by a Jamele Carothers one-yard run, a 4:05 scoring drive ended by a Chance Warren touchdown, and a four-minute plus possession that resulted in a 26-yard run by Nelson Smith.
“It’s classic triple-option team,” Temple Coach Rod Carey said about Navy. “They started the game with sixteen plays, and you’re gassed at the end of it. We were never able to get a score up or get even with them.”
The Owls answered with a Wil Mobley 25-yard field goal and a Russo one-yard touchdown plunge. It was one of two scoring runs for Russo to go along with a scoring toss to Mack that got Temple to within 21 – 17 in the third quarter. But those long drives kept Temple away from the ball and resulted in a nine-minute edge for Navy in time of possession. The Owls could not effectively stop the triple-option offense.
Smith gave the Midshipmen a 28 – 17 advantage late in the third quarter running the ball in from 22-yards away. Russo got another touchdown on a 9-yard scamper, but a two-point conversion attempt was no good.
Russo finished the game with 20 yards on the ground and went 21 of 30 passing attempts for 206 yards. In the first game Russo got more comfortable as the game went on, but feels he needs to clean up the mistakes.
“I definitely felt I calmed down when I got a couple of completions under my belt,” Russo said. “The one thing that stands out to me is I was real calm in between the twenties, but once we got in the red zone I was tending to rush a little bit.”
Temple starts the season 0 – 1, but they did start the season. The home opener is a week away against USF at the Linc.
“It felt really good,” Carey said. “It certainly was nice to have some normalcy out there.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian