Batten Down the Hatches

| October 12, 2018

Navy faces season-defining test at home against Temple.


Navy fans all over the country have been on a roller coaster ride this season. Navy got smashed by Hawaii and their newest edition of the Run and Shoot offense but turned that around in a come-from-behind victory against Memphis. Navy used that momentum to put up 51-points against Lehigh but lost to SMU after the Mustangs successfully converted 2-points to beat the Midshipmen 31-30 in overtime.

Things went from bad to worse last week when Air Force took the wind out of the sails of Navy, putting up 35-points and holding the Mid’s rushing attack to 129-yards. SMU QB D.J. Hammond, sidelined early in the game when dazed by a helmet-to-helmet collision, returned to run for three touchdowns and throw for another, leading Air Force past Navy, 35-7, last Saturday in his first career start.

However, despite stumbling, there is still a chance that the Mid’s could find their way into the AAC Conference Championship game. Currently, Navy is tied for second place in the AAC West Division behind Houston (who they play next week in Navy-Marine Corps Stadium).

Temple, on the other hand, is on fire right now. They have won their last four games this season and enters the weekend having won three of the last four meetings against Navy, including dominating the Mids in the last two outings. The Owls beat Navy, 34-10, in Annapolis in the 2016 AAC Championship Game and then beat Navy last year, 34-26, at Lincoln Financial Field in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated. Navy’s last win over Temple came in 2014, 31-24, in Philadelphia. Navy is 4-4 all-time against the Owls in Annapolis.

Temple is coming off the largest margin of victory in program history over an FBS opponent in a 49-6 win at home against ECU. Temple held ECU without a touchdown, the first time the Pirates were held out of the end zone in AAC play. Against ECU, Quarterback Anthony Russo completed 21 of his 25 pass attempts for 254 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Owls, while running back Ryquell Armstead rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Branden Mack (5-43), Sean Ryan (4-57), Randle Jones (3-47) and Isaiah Wright (3-22) all had touchdown catches for the Owls.

On the year, Russo has completed 65 of his 119 pass attempts for 873 yards with five touchdowns and six interceptions.
Backup Frank Nutile, who beat Navy last year, has completed 33 of his 63 pass attempts for 401 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions.

Armstead, who is one of the top running backs in the American Athletic Conference, has rushed for 626 yards and six touchdowns on 122 carries, while Mack is the leading receiver with 22 catches for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Armstead’s six rushing touchdowns are the 24th most in the nation, while his 104.3 rushing yards per game ranks 22nd nationally.

The defense, which leads the nation with five defensive touchdowns and is 22nd in turnovers gained with 11, is led by Shaun Bradley, who has 42 tackles, three tackles for a loss, a sack, and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. Rock Ya-Sin is ranked 10th in the nation in passes defended with 1.7 per game and is 25th in interceptions with two.

Navy has their hands full, and a loss this week might prove to be too much to get them back into the AAC Conference Championship Game. Kickoff is set for 3:30 pm Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Make sure to follow along on Twitter, FB and Instagram @Shellbacksports.

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About the Author - Kevin Chaney, Jr

Kevin Chaney covers sports all at all levels throughout Anne Arundel County. Follow him on twitter @Kchaneysports and his website www.Shellbacksports.com

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