By Morton Smith
Frank Nutile threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns and Temple beat struggling Navy 34-26 last night at the Linc.
Nutile, making his second straight start in place of the injured Logan Marchi, completed 22 of 30 passes with one interception as Temple (4-5, 2-3 American Athletic Conference) snapped a two-game skid.
“We lost a heartbreaker two weeks ago and we had 10 days to really get together as a team and regroup,” Nutile said. “We have this mindset that it’s a championship game very week. So it feels really good to win a game like this.”
Adonis Jennings had five catches for 127 yards, including touchdown catches of 34 and 40 yards. Keith Kirkwood and Jake Robinson also caught TDs for the Owls, who entered averaging just 20.9 points a game, 112th best in the FBS.
“We knew what a competitor he was. We knew how smart he was,” Collins said of his junior QB. “But just the command he had over the offense and his gamesmanship, I’m really proud of him.”
Navy quarterback Zach Abey, who sustained a concussion in a loss to Central Florida on Oct. 21, rushed for 87 yards and caught a touchdown pass on trick play before leaving with a shoulder injury. The Midshipmen (5-3, 3-3) rushed for 136 yards, well below their nation-best average of 376, in their third straight loss.
“We don’t have any excuses,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “We were rested. We had a lot of guys back. They beat the crap out of us.”
Navy cornerback Tyris Wooten was suspended for violating team rules. Noruwa Obanor started in his place and the Owls pounced.
Jennings beat Elijah Merchant on his two scores and Robinson’s first career catch came against Merchant. Khaylan Williams was beaten in the end zone on Kirkwood’s 8-yard catch that made it 17-3 in the second quarter.
“On the back end, you’ll probably blame one person,” Navy linebacker D.J. Palmore said. “But it’s really all of us.”
Temple, playing a triple-option team for the second-straight game after losing in overtime at Army on Oct. 21, plugged running lanes with an eight-man front that left Navy frustrated.
Abey left after taking a hit on his interception early in the fourth. Garret Lewis entered with Temple trailing 34-13 and threw touchdown passes to Brandon Colon and Tyler Carmona.
“Not going in the right direction. We’ve got to figure things out quickly,” Niumaalolo said. “I coach by feelings, and just something has been amiss with us.”