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Observations from Temple’s 31-29 loss at Navy

The game went down to a failed two-point conversion by Temple with 1 minute, 2 seconds left.

Temple's Branden Mack runs the ball as Navy's Michael McMorris gives chase in the first half.
Temple's Branden Mack runs the ball as Navy's Michael McMorris gives chase in the first half.Read moreGail Burton / AP

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A football season that was supposed to start on Sept. 5 finally got going for Temple in Saturday’s opening game at Navy.

Here are some takeaways from the Owls' 31-29 loss in an American Athletic Conference thriller.

Rough two-point play

After Re’Mahn Davis had scored on a 1-yard run to cut Navy’s led to 31-29 with 1 minute, 2 seconds left, the Owls had to go for two points. Anthony Russo went to Davis out of the backfield, but the problem was that Navy’s Terrell Adams was right on him. Adams batted the ball away.

Navy did a good job covering the receivers on the play, but Russo would have been better scrambling and looking for another option.

» READ MORE: Foiled two-point conversion seals Temple’s opening 31-29 loss at Navy

First drive stalled when going outside

Navy had trouble stopping Temple on passes over the middle, but when the Owls got to a first-and-goal from the Navy 8 on their first drive, the Owls got no gain on a run up the middle and then missed on two passes to the outside and had to settle for a field goal.

Trouble with the screen pass

Everybody knows the key to beating Navy is to stop the ground game in the triple option. Who would have thought the screen pass would give Temple trouble. Navy’s second and third touchdowns were both set up by screens that went for big plays.

Early in the second quarter on a 3rd-and-14 from the Owls' 38, a screen to CJ Williams gained 36 yards to the Temple 2. Williams was barely touched until about the 7-yard line and he continued to the 2. He did a lot of weaving through traffic.

Later in the quarter, on a 4th-and-6 from the Temple 45, Navy again completed a screen of 12 yards to Mychal Cooper to keep the drive alive. With no success throwing down field, Temple had to feel a screen was coming but still didn’t appear prepared for it.

Stopping the triple option

In the triple option there will be many plays that get stopped, but the beauty of the offense is that some quick-hitters work for big plays. Temple got burned by several, including this 26-yard touchdown by Nelson Smith that increased Navy’s lead to 21-10. Navy simply blew Temple off the ball going right up the middle for the score.

» READ MORE: Temple came close, but wasn’t quite ready for Navy | Mike Jensen

Squandering chances

Late in the first half, from the Navy 16, Russo failed to see John Marshall when he was going for Jadan Blue in the end zone, and Marshall made the interception. Last year, Temple had trouble operating in the red zone, and this was another squandered chance.

On the first series in the third quarter, a wide-open Randle Jones was deep on a third-down pass, and he dropped the ball around the Navy 30-yard line, forcing the Owls to punt.

Trouble defending Mack

Navy was having trouble defending receiver Branden Mack. While the 6-foot-5 Mack is a beast in the red zone, he also runs precise patterns. His 7-yard touchdown was an example of Navy losing track of Mack, who was wide open.

it was actually a well-designed play. You’ll notice that Jadan Blue (No. 5) took a step back, and it appeared as if Temple would throw a screen to him. One defender went toward Blue and another froze, and Mack was able to get behind him for the score.

More up the middle

Navy continued to attack the strength of the defense, going right up the middle. Smith once again blew through the middle of the line for a 22-yard touchdown that increased the lead to 28-17.