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Owls get two offensive line starters back against Navy

Center Matt Hennessy and right guard Brian Carter returned after being sidelined the last game.

Matt Hennessy.
Matt Hennessy.Read moreTemple Athletics

Because of  injuries, the Temple offensive line has been among the most depleted units on the team.

The Owls got two offensive-line starters back in Thursday's 34-26 American Athletic Conference win over Navy at Lincoln Financial Field.

In Temple's previous game, a 31-28 overtime loss on Oct. 21 at Army, right tackle Cole Boozer was the only opening day starter on the offensive line who also was a starter in that game.

In fact, Boozer is the only Temple offensive lineman to start all nine games.

Two other opening day starters, redshirt center Matt Hennessy and redshirt senior right guard Brian Carter, returned to the starting lineup against Navy after missing the Army game because of illness/injury.

Both Hennessy and Carter have made eight starts.

The other starters against Navy were redshirt junior left tackle James McHale and redshirt freshman left guard Vincent Picozzi. McHale was making his second consecutive start and Picozzi, a graduate of Lansdale Catholic, was making his third start.

Temple's most experienced offensive lineman, redshirt senior left tackle Leon Johnson, who has been battling an ankle injury, came off the bench for the second straight game. Johnson, who has 29 career starts, made his first appearance in the second quarter.

The Owls didn't allow a sack against Navy and had 389 yards of total offense, a tribute to the play of the offensive line.

Scoring on an opening possession

When Temple's Aaron Boumerhi kicked a 22-yard field goal on the Owls' opening drive, it marked only the second time that they have scored on their first possession.

The other time came when Austin Jones kicked a 24-yard field against Massachusetts in a game the Owls won, 29-21.

Navy also scored a field goal on its first possession, the third team to score on its opening drive against the Owls. The others were Notre Dame and East Carolina, which both scored touchdowns.

Temple scored on its first six possessions of the game.

Wayne Hardin honored

There was a video tribute between the first and second quarters for the late Wayne Hardin, who was a head coach at both Temple and Navy.

Friends and family of the Hall of Fame coach were on the field between periods as Hardin was acknowledged.

Hardin, who died in April at the age of 91, was 38-22-2 in six seasons at Navy and 80-52-2 in his 13 seasons as head coach at Temple.

At Navy he coached two Heisman Trophy winners, Joe Bellino in 1960 and Roger Staubach in 1963. Hardin was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Kirkwood’s breakout game

Wide receiver Keith Kirkwood has been slowed this season by a shoulder injury, but it wasn't apparent against Navy.

In the first half alone, the redshirt senior had his season high with six receptions, including an 8-yard scoring pass from Frank Nutile. He finished with season highs of seven receptions for 87 yards and one touchdown.

Before Thursday, Kirkwood had not had more than four catches in any game this season.

"Tonight as a group we showed everybody what we are made of," Kirkwood said. "We had a little downfall here and there but I think tonight we picked it up and we are on our way to a bowl game."

Temple (4-5, 2-3 AAC) must go 2-1 in its last three games to become bowl eligible.

Bryant missed game

Junior wide receiver Ventell Bryant, who has 20 receptions for 185 yards, didn't play in the game

"He didn't practice the last week and a half," coach Geoff Collins said. "He is on the team and we expect him back in practice Sunday. He is a great kid, great competitor."

When asked why he didn't practice, Collins termed it an internal matter.