PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Frank Nutile threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns, and Temple’s struggling offense awoke to beat Navy 34-26 on Thursday night.
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.
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.
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 another injury. The Midshipmen (5-3, 3-3) rushed for 136 yards, well below their nation-best average of 376.
A trip to Lincoln Financial Field had always ended on a positive note for the Midshipmen, who entered 12-0 at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles — including a 10-0 mark against rival Army.
But much like a year ago when Temple cruised to a 34-10 win in the AAC title game, Navy’s defense faltered.
Navy cornerback Tyris Wooten was suspended for violating team rules. Noruwa Obanor started in his place and the Owls picked on the Midshipmen’s secondary.
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.
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.
Navy: Coach Ken Niumatalolo was focusing on avoiding turnovers after eight giveaways in the previous two games. Abey’s pick was the lone turnover, but the defense was overrun by one of the worst offensive teams in the country. Navy’s 5-0 start is a distant memory.
Temple: Geoff Collins has had an uneven first season as the coach for Temple, which still needs to finish 2-1 to reach a bowl for the third straight year. Temple looked sharp with the junior Nutile likely securing a starting job.
Navy’s first touchdown came with razzle-dazzle. Darryl Bonner took a direct snap, pitched a reverse to fellow running back Malcolm Perry for a 5-yard pass to an open Abey.
Navy hosts SMU on Nov. 11.
Temple plays at Cincinnati on Nov. 10.
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