Tem­ple seeks to sus­tain up­ward trend against Navy

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - SPORTS -

AN­NAPO­LIS, MD. » The last time Tem­ple vis­ited the state of Mary­land, the Owls stopped a two-game skid. On Satur­day, they will be look­ing to sus­tain some pos­i­tive mo­men­tum.

Tem­ple (3-3, 2-0 Amer­i­can Ath­letic Con­fer­ence) faces Navy (2-3, 1-1) af­ter win­ning three of its three of its last four games in con­vinc­ing fash­ion — a streak that be­gan with a 35-14 rout of Mary­land in Col­lege Park on Sept. 15.

Navy, on the other hand, is seek­ing to re­verse a neg­a­tive trend. The Mid­ship­men have dropped two straight, in­clud­ing an em­bar­rass­ing 35-7 blowout at Air Force last Satur­day.

In a 49-6 rout of East Carolina last week, Owls quar­ter­back An­thony Russo went 21 for 25 for 254 yards and four touch­downs.

Ryquell Arm­stead rushed for 91 yards and a touch­down on 20 car­ries be­fore limp­ing off the field in the third quar­ter. He re­turned briefly be­fore call­ing it a day, snap­ping his streak of four con­sec­u­tive con­tests of run­ning for 100 yards or more. He has rushed for 626 yards for the sea­son.

The 43-point mar­gin of vic­tory was the most in Tem­ple his­tory against a Foot­ball Bowl Sub­di­vi­sion foe.

“It was an im­pres­sive win against a re­ally good op­po­nent,” Owls coach Ge­off Collins said. “We were hit­ting on all cylin­ders in ev­ery phase of the game.”

Asked what im­presses him most about Tem­ple’s of­fense, Navy head coach Ken Ni­u­mat­alolo replied: “Un­for­tu­nately, there’s too much that im­presses me. I don’t know where to start. Who do you try to stop? Af­ter a tough loss you don’t want to put on the tape and watch them play. That’s a scary of­fense, and they’re op­er­at­ing re­ally well right now.” BOUNC­ING BACK » Nav y needs to re­group af­ter los­ing back-to-back road games with a bye week in be­tween.

“We’ve got a lot to im­prove on as a team. We’re just not play­ing very well right now,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said.

Af­ter los­ing to Air Force, Navy jumps back into AAC play against a tough Tem­ple team that won last year’s meet­ing, 34-26.

‘A very tal­ented team, a very phys­i­cal team that has al­ways given us trou­ble,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said of the Owls. DE­FEND­ING THE OP­TION » Navy man­aged only 129 yards rush­ing against Air Force and dropped out of the na­tional lead in that cat­e­gory as a re­sult, fall­ing into sec­ond place be­hind Ge­or­gia Tech.

“If they’re not lead­ing the coun­try in rush­ing of­fense, they’re def­i­nitely right up there,” Collins said. “They’ve got some re­ally good ath­letes and some tremen­dous schemes. Our guys un­der­stand the chal­lenge.”

Navy quar­ter­back Mal­colm Perry got bot­tled up by Air Force, but still ranks 11th in FBS with 116.8 yards rush­ing per game. SET­TING THE PACE » Nav y and Tem­ple have been among the most suc­cess­ful pro­grams in the AAC over the past four sea­sons. Since 2015, the Owls (206) and Mid­ship­men (19-7) rank sec­ond and third in AAC reg­u­lar sea­son stand­ings.

South Flor­ida (20-5) boasts the best record in con­fer­ence play dur­ing that stretch.

Two years ago, Navy and Tem­ple played in the AAC Cham­pi­onship game. The Owls rolled, 34-10 in An­napo­lis. HAPPY TO BE HOME » The Mid­ship­men are no doubt happy to re­turn to NavyMarine Corps Memo­rial Sta­dium, where they own an im­pres­sive 18-2 record over the past four sea­sons.

“We’re strug­gling right now. We’re at home and we’ll need all the ex­tra ad­van­tage we can get be­cause we’re a team right now that is search­ing for an­swers,” Ni­u­mat­alolo said.

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