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Temple football season ends with another lopsided defeat, 38-14 at home to Navy

The Owls finish their season at 3-9, with their last seven defeats coming by at least 20 points.

Temple Owls head coach Rod Carey on the sidelines during the last home game against the Navy Midshipmen at Lincoln Financial Field  on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Temple lost, 38-14,
Temple Owls head coach Rod Carey on the sidelines during the last home game against the Navy Midshipmen at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021. Temple lost, 38-14,Read moreTYGER WILLIAMS / Staff Photographer

Temple’s football season came to a close following the Owls’ seventh straight 20-plus point loss. The Owls fell to Navy, 38-14, at Lincoln Financial Field finishing with a 3-9 record.

That’s the program’s fewest total wins in a complete season (excluding the shortened COVID season) since 2013, Matt Rhule’s first season coaching at Temple (2-10).

“I just don’t want to get into all that right now,” said coach Rod Carey about how to right the ship of the program. “Today is about the Navy game and these seniors. I want to keep the focus on that.”

Offensively, the Owls crossed midfield just three times. Defensively, they couldn’t get off the field. And two special-teams muffed punts from Amad Anderson Jr., one of which he recovered, left something to be desired.

Navy put up 293 yards of total offense compared to Temple’s 164. The Midshipmen also put points on the board in each of their six trips to the red zone.

Navy quarterback Tai Lavatai threw for 57 yards completing 5 of 11 passing attempts and a touchdown.

Senior Day

Temple recognized 15 players prior to kickoff for senior day.

Each player jogged out of the tunnel individually greeting Carey and his wife, Tonya, for a photo-op before joining their family members lined up across the 20-yard line.

Most notably, the Owls are losing defensive leaders Amir Tyler and William Kwenkeu along with graduate receiver Randle Jones.

Each of the three, plus cornerback Freddie Johnson and offensive lineman Michel Niese, mark the final remnants of the Rhule era at Temple. Their 2016 freshman seasons overlapped with Rhule’s final year coaching the Owls before he left for Baylor.

Valenti takes over at QB

Mariano Valenti saw action in his third game under center this season. His first appearances came briefly in Temple’s first two games, against Rutgers and Akron.

Justin Lynch got the start, but midway through the first quarter, the true freshman quarterback took a big hit rolling out to his right. He completed 5 of 8 passes for 25 yards.

Valenti replaced him, taking command the rest of the way. He threw for 73 yards, completing 10 of 14 passes.

Carey said Lynch’s inability to execute led to the quarterback change.

Both of Temple’s touchdown drives, led by Valenti, came on the ground. The first, a 1-yard rush from Ra’Von Bonner in the second quarter, followed by a 4-yard run from Tayvon Ruley in the third.

Navy’s triple option

The Owls were largely up to the task defending the Midshipmen’s creativity out of the backfield.

Navy rushed for 221 yards on 59 attempts, averaging 3.7 yards per carry. That’s the fewest yards per carry Temple’s front seven has allowed since its Sept. 25 win over Wagner (2.56).

The triple option lines up three potential ball carriers: the quarterback and two running backs. Defenses have an extra threat to account for, making it harder to contain.

Three of Navy’s four scores came courtesy of short rushes and four different players recorded seven or more carries. The group was led by senior Isaac Ruoss, who rushed for 66 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.

Temple’s defensive peak came at the 8-minute, 34-second mark of the second quarter. Lavatai pitched the ball to his left, but defensive end Layton Jordan knocked it out of the air.

Safety Alex Odom recovered the ball at the 1-yard line. Temple needed only one play for Bonner to punch it in from a yard out, cutting the deficit to 14-7.