- The Washington Times - Friday, August 31, 2001

TEMPLE 45, NAVY 26

PHILADELPHIA Even without star running Tanardo Sharps last night, Temple stuck to its playbook against Navy. The Owls dominated the Midshipmen on the line of scrimmage, using four running backs to establish and sustain a running game en route to a 45-26 drubbing before 26,191 at venerable Franklin Field in the season opener for both teams.

Navy's new 4-3 defense was on its heels all night and could not stop the Owls' ground game, which amassed 181 yards by halftime. Sharps (Meade High School), who rushed for 1,038 yards last season, including 180 against the Mids, was out with a pulled groin but was not missed. Fullbacks Jason McKie, who scored on an 80-yard touchdown run, and Harold Jackson (270 pounds) dominated in between the tackles, and running backs Makonnen Fenton (13 carries, 94 yards) and Lester Trammer were effective on the outside.

The Owls had 200 total yards more than the Mids, outgaining them 460 to 259, including 285 to 49 on the ground.

"We made enough mistakes on both sides of the ball for the whole season," Navy coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "We didn't execute on either side of the ball, missed tackles. When you're on the field 110 plays on defense … you are not working to their strengths."

Said Navy quarterback Craig Candeto: "We weren't used to the speed of the game. You can't practice it… . We got things rolling later after we got things in a groove."

Temple quarterback Devin Scott directed the Owls' passing game efficiently, using a myriad of running back and wide receiver screens to capitalize on the Mids' secondary, which at times was playing 15 yards off the ball. Scott completed 75 percent of his passes in the first half for 100 yards. He finished 11-for-15 for 118 yards before backup Mac DeVito took over at the beginning of the fourth quarter. DeVito led the Owls to two fourth-quarter touchdowns, including one in his first drive.

The Navy quarterbacks, in their new flexbone offense, did not fare as well. Weatherbie is quick to compare Candeto with Chris McCoy, the last signal caller to lead the Mids to a bowl game (1996) and the Midshipmen's all-time leader in total offense.

Last night, Candeto became the first sophomore quarterback to start the season opener since McCoy in 1995 Weatherbie's first season in Annapolis. In that game, McCoy led the Mids to a 33-2 win at Southern Methodist. Candeto, did not fare as well, but he showed signs of brilliance, most notably a 39-yard touchdown pass to Marshaun Minter in the third quarter.

Candeto, who did not complete a pass in the first half, tossed a beautiful ball along the left sideline and dropped it over Minter's left shoulder for his first career touchdown pass. Minter was guarded close by Jairo Almonte, who was grabbing at his jersey, but Minter's concentration gave him a touchdown on his first career catch. After the extra point, the Mids were down 24-13.

Candeto (5-for-14 for 108 yards through the air, 5 yards on 13 carries) threw his second touchdown pass with 7:11 to play on a quick slant to Dominic Bailey. The Mids failed on their two-point conversion attempt and were down 38-19.

Senior quarterback Ed Malinowski played well in two series of work in the first half. He completed three passes but like Candeto was ineffective on the ground with 3 yards on five carries. Tony Lane was one of the few bright spots for the Mids, setting a school record for kickoff return yardage in a game (180 yards).

"We felt pretty comfortable [in the flexbone]," Candeto said. "We were well prepared. We made a few mistakes that we have to work on. It's not too complicated."

The Owls entered halftime leading 17-6, the score by which they beat Navy last season. Temple wasted no time after the game's opening kickoff. The Owls, showing a powerful running attack, marched 85 yards and took a 7-0 lead a little less than eight minutes into the game.

Temple used 15 plays, three third-down conversions and one fourth-down pickup to dissect the Mids' 4-3. Trammer capped the drive, taking a screen pass 20 yards for a touchdown.

After Navy went three-and-out, the Owls were at it again. Jared Davis kicked a 39-yard field goal 12 seconds into the second quarter, and Temple had a 10-0 advantage.

This time Navy responded. Tony Lane fielded the kickoff and returned it 67 yards to the Temple 25. The Mids looked primed to score a touchdown, but wide receiver Minter fumbled at the 2-yard line into the end zone, where Temple recovered. A late hit on Candeto allowed Navy to retain possession, but the Mids still had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by David Hills, leaving them down 10-3.

Navy defensive tackle Andy Zetts intercepted a screen pass at the Temple 33-yard line to set up Hills' second field goal to make the score 10-6. Scott was hit on the arm on the interception.

But back came the Owls. On the first play of their next drive, McKie took a handoff off left tackle, ran through safety DeJuan Cromer and didn't stop until he reached the end zone 80 yards later. The extra point gave the Owls a 17-6 lead.

"[I'm] not really surprised with [Temple's running backs'] explosiveness as much as their power," Weatherbie said. "Physically they ran the ball well, up between the tackles… . When they needed 3 or 4 yards they got it."

It looked like the Mids would get at least three more points at the end of the half after they recovered a fumbled punt at the Owls 20-yard line with eight seconds to play. But Malinowski was sacked, and Navy failed to call a timeout. Weatherbie was not happy and berated new offensive coordinator Mark Hudspeth for the lapse.

Note Navy strength coach Kirk Woolfolk was rushed to Hahnemann Hospital yesterday morning. He collapsed shortly after leaving the Wyndham hotel for a walk and was discovered by pedestrians, who called 911. The fourth-year conditioning coach, 43, was held overnight for precautionary reasons. He is in stable condition.


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