Game 527: Temple Owls devastate Navy, 34-10, in American Athletic Championship

Temple Owls devastate Navy, 34-10, in American Athletic Championship

It was all Temple in the AAC championship this Saturday in Annapolis.

It was all Temple in the AAC championship this Saturday in Annapolis.

Annapolis, Maryland – The Temple Owls got off to a smoking, hot start scoring 21 points on their first three possessions and shut down the vaunted Navy triple option to defeat the No. 19 team on their home turf, 34-10.  The Owl defense held the Navy rushing attack to 168 yards well short of the average rushing yards of over 350 per game.  It was the first loss for the Naval Academy who had won 14 straight games on their home turf at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.  In the second period, standout Navy QB Bill Worth and SB and team captain Toneo Gulley both suffered injuries that ended their Navy football careers.

The Mids will play the final regular season game of the 2016 college football season next Saturday against archrival Army in Baltimore.   They will take the field with third string QB Zach Abey who stepped in to play for the first time this season to take over for Worth in this championship game.

Temple's defense looked well prepared to stop QB Bill Worth (15) to shut down Navy's triple option right from the start.

Temple’s defense looked well prepared to stop QB Bill Worth (15) to shut down Navy’s triple option right from the start.

The Temple Owls drove 75 yards for a 15-yard sweep left by Jahad Thomas for a touchdown the first time they had the ball.  Navy attempted to convert a first down on fourth and seven at the Owl 44 on their first series, but the Owls took over on downs from their 41.  A 23-yard TD pass from QB P.J. Walker (16 of 25 for 199 yards, 2 TDs) to WR Ventell Bryant who ran around a Navy defender put TU ahead 14-0.  Before the period ended, Temple slammed RB Darryl Bonner to the ground and recovered a fumble to start their next drive from their 30. Bonner suffered an injury and di not return to play.

Guest Game Analyst George Lazarides (Johns Hopkins) who had joined be for Navy opener when they hammered Fordham, 52-13, noted, “No pushups.”  He saw the plebes of the Brigade pump out 284 each that day after each Navy score.  The Mids in the stands didn’t have many opportunities to leave their seats on this day against the Eastern Division Champion Temple Owls of the AAC.

Temple Owls escort RB Jahad Thomas into the end zone for a 15-yard TD run to start the scoring for the TU victory.

Temple Owls escort RB Jahad Thomas into the end zone for a 15-yard TD run to start the scoring for the TU victory.

Walker connected with WR Kirk Kirkwood on a long pass to the left pylon of the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown pass.  The Owls were in command of the Navy, 21-0.  Two series later, Navy QB Bill worth left the game with what was reported to be a broken bone in his foot as did Gulley on the same play.  Neither would return.  Third team QB Zach Abey got pulled into service.   Could he do what Worth did in the first game of the season and pick up the offense after Tago Smith went down to a season-ending injury?  Abey led the Mids to a score on his first series as Bennett Moehring made good on a 27-yard FG to avert a shut-out, 21-3.  Later in the period, Abey’s pass was picked by CB Nate Hairston at the Temple Owls’ 49.  With 21 seconds remaining in the first half, PK Aaron Boumheri booted a 48-yard FG to give the Temple Cherry and White a 24-3 lead into halftime.

WR Ventell Bryant catches a pass and circles back around Navy defender for a 14-0 Temple Owl lead.

WR Ventell Bryant catches a pass and circles back around Navy defender for a 14-0 Temple Owl lead.

To start the second half, Navy’s defense was able to keep the Owls out of the end zone, but its dominating offense that 61 points the last three games was held in check very effectively by the TU defense.  They clogged up the middle for the FB dive. They hit the QB on every play, and their quickness on the outside shut down the pitch on the option.  Temple HC Matt Rhule and DC Phil Snow had their defense wall prepared.  They had adjusted well since their season-opening loss to Army that GGA and tailgater extraordinaire Brian Donnelly attended with us as well as today’s game (we’re still enjoying his Old Bay Spice chicken wings at our tailgates. They’re great!).  Army FB Andy Davison tore apart the middle of the TU defense.  Will this be any kind of an omen for next week’s Army-Navy clash?

Unlike Notre Dame Stadium, cameras at Navy-Marine Corps don't block the views of any paying customers. One of these years, the Mis should host the Irish here.

Unlike Notre Dame Stadium, cameras at Navy-Marine Corps don’t block the views of any paying customers. One of these years, the Mids should host the Irish here.

Navy showed a little life late in the third when a buck and spin move from the one (that my late high school HC Joe Molitoris would have been proud of after all those drills) by Abey finished off a 64-yard drive to give the Mids a glimmer of hope for a fourth quarter comeback trailing now, 24-10.  The ensuing Navy kick-off, however, went out of bounds to set TU up from their 35.  Boumerhi put up another three on the board with his 48-yard FG.  The next Navy drive turned over on downs, and the next resulted in a pick by TU DE Haason Reddick to give the Owls possession at Navy’s 34.  RB Ryquell Armstead finished the drive on the second play after the turnover with a 30-yard TD to seal the Temple 2016 AAC Championship, 34-10.  The Temple fans celebrated, and the teams met on the field to sing their respective alma maters with both bands.  The Brigade sang theirs for the first time in quite a while, something that they desperately want to avoid next weekend.

Navy QB Zach Abey (9) uses a buck and spin move to score Navy's only touchdown against the Owls.

Navy QB Zach Abey (9) uses a buck and spin move to score Navy’s only touchdown against the Owls.

The Temple Owls may end up playing its next game in Annapolis to the delight of many Temple fans living within driving distance.  Navy-Marine Corps hosts the Military Bowl sponsored by Northrop-Grumman when the ACC plays an ACC team.  Our guess is that TU would play Georgia Tech.  That would be interesting for a few reasons.  Tech is coached by former Navy HC Paul Johnson.  It would be a homecoming of sorts for him, and he would be bringing his triple option offense to Annapolis.  For Temple, that could be an advantage after having faced both Army and Navy this season who run the same offense that they’ve already been tested against.  They seem to have figured it out now. However, this may be taken into consideration by the bowl committee if GT is possibly a choice.  The ACC may want to offer a different team in their conference.


Next week, we follow Navy to Baltimore to battle Army for the 107th meeting between these two rivals.  Navy leads the series now 60-49-7.  The Mids have won the last 14 games in this series. For, it will be the 11th time since 1972 that we’ve been in attendance.  This will be our fifth consecutive in this series.  Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo will be giving Soph Zach Abey a lot of reps in practice this week as his new starter.  Against an improved Army team (6-5) under HC Jeff Monken, this game looked challenging already for the Mids to win their 15th in row in this historical rivalry, greatest college football rivalry in the nation.

This season, we attended five games played by the Mids winning four including the 46-40 upset win over No. 6 Houston.  We also watched Army play three times beating Temple in the opener before falling to Buffalo on the road and to Air Force at home.  We will be prepping for a typical frigid Army-Navy weather forecast according to the weather people.  Nothing new, although last year was a surprising seasonably warm game played in the 70s in balmy Philadelphia.  Historically, we always expect Army-Navy weekend to the coldest of any given year whether we go or not.  Last year the heavily-favored, bowl bound Mids got by the Cadets, 21-17.  This one is guaranteed to be just as close, but the win could go to either team.  We still say, “Go Navy!”




Game 526: Penn State Nittany Lions roar by Michigan State, 45-12, to take Big Ten Eastern crown

Penn State Nittany Lions roar by Michigan State, 45-12, to take Big Ten Eastern crown

State College, Pennsylvania – The No. 8 Penn State Nittany Lions overcame four first half Michigan State field goals by Michael Geiger on all four Spartan first-half drives to down MSU, 45-12, to win the Big Ten Eastern Division. It was the case of a bend-but-don’t-break-defense as the Nittany Lions gave up a lot of yards but no touchdowns in the first half to stay within striking distance.  QB Trace McSorely threw for four long touchdowns in the second half to devastate the Spartans.  The Nittany Lions (10-2,8-1) tallied 35 unanswered points to overcome a 12-10 halftime lead taken by the Spartans (3-9,1-8) on a Geiger field goal right before time expired. They will meet Western champ Wisconsin in Indianapolis next week for the Big Ten title. saw the Lions win impressively for the second time this season (attended the Ohio State game) and hopes things go right to impress the pollsters next week to vault the surprising Nittany Lions into the CFP Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl that we already plan to attend.

John, me, and Brian get primed for the Spartans.  We were joined by Evan and Tito, but Jeremiah could not be found on this particular day.

John, me, and Brian got primed for the Nittany Lions to beat the Spartans. We were joined for this game by Evan and Tito, but Jeremiah could not be found on this particular day.

Michigan State QBs Tyler O’Conner and Damion Terry combined for 24 of 45 passes for 219 yards on many short passes to wide open receivers throughout the first half.  Geiger converted on field goals of 28 and 36 yards to come away with a six-point lead at the end of the first period.

MSU QB Damion Terry (6) completed seven of twelve for 101 yards, but like O'Conner, he could not find his way to the end zone against the Lion defense.

MSU QB Damion Terry (6) completed seven of twelve for 101 yards, but like O’Conner, he could not find his way to the end zone against the Lion defense.

The Nittany Lions got on the board early in the second on Tyler Davis’s 35-yard FG.  Geiger countered right away with another from 33 yards out to keep the Spartans in the lead, 9-3.  PSU finally put up seven at the end of a 78-yard drive as Saquon Barkley (14 carries for 16 yards and one TD, left with a leg injury in the third) leaped over the line for one-yard plunge to give the Nittany Lions a 10-9 advantage.  But once again Geiger converted with ten seconds left with a 21-yard conversion to give Michigan State the lead at the half.

Saquon Barkley (26) takes it over the Spartan defense for the game's first touchdown.

Saquon Barkley (26) takes it over the Spartan defense for the game’s first touchdown.

There was great excitement as the Nittany Lion Faithful roared in the first half when word was passed that Ohio State defeated Michigan in double OT, 30-27.  A Michigan loss there and a Penn State win here would give the Lions the division title by virtue of its head to head 24-20 win over Ohio State.  Trailing only 12-10 at halftime, the Blue and White Faithful looked forward to the second half.  It wouldn’t take long for fans of Happy Valley to roar again.

MSU returned the second half kick out to their own 17.  On third down, DE Evan Schwab and DT Curtis Cothran sacked O’Connor for ten yards.  It indicated some adjustments were made at intermission and more pressure would finally be applied to the Spartan passing game.  Punting from their eight, Michigan State gave the Nittany Lions the ball with room to operate.

QB Trace McSorely got to work starting from his 48.  He connected with WR Chris Godwin down the left sideline for a 34-yard TD pass.  He followed up on his next series with a 45-yard TD pass to TE Mike Gesicki down the middle in the end zone for a 24-12 lead.  MSU started to drive, but O’Connor fumbled and CB Grant Haley recovered on the PSU 38 to put the ball back in McSorely’s hands.  He promptly put the ball into the awaiting hands of Godwin (five catches for 135 and two TDs) on the run for a 59-yard score to take a 31-12 lead into the final period.  In command now, the Nittany Lions now looked for style points to impress the pollsters.  Earlier in the season, Michigan defeated the Spartans 32-23 in East Lansing, and just the week before, Ohio State held them off for a 17-16 win also at the home of Sparty.

LT Ryan Bates (52) leads the charge for the Nittany Lion running game.

LT Ryan Bates (52) leads the charge for the Nittany Lion running game.

In the final period, HC James Franklin stuck with his starters though Barkley was nowhere to be seen.  The Lion defense halted MSU on fourth down to take over on the 42.  RB Andre Robinson carried the ball in from the six to pump up the lead to 38-12 with 6:33 remaining.  Robinson did more damage on a reception from McSorely (17 of 23, 374 yards, 4 TDs) and ran down the middle for a 40-yard touchdown to finalize the score, 45-12.  Fans were requested to remain in their seats for a “special presentation”.  What could that be?

Andre Robinsson (6) takes in a pass from McSorely on his way to a 40-yard touchdown.

RB Andre Robinson (6) takes in a pass from McSorely on his way to a 40-yard touchdown for PSU.

Associate Big Ten Commissioner Chad Hawley was on hand to present the Eastern Division Championship hardware to the Lions instead on Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney to the disappointment of many PSU fans, but I say win it all when he’s in Indianapolis next weekend.  We wondered if it had to be shipped over by helicopter from Columbus this afternoon after OSU defeated U of M.  HC James Franklin congratulated his players, his coaches, staff members, and the Penn State fans who supported the Lions of the field so intensively.  He urged them to buy their tickets and make their reservations out to Indianapolis.  It could be hard for the students coming back from Thanksgiving break and getting ready for finals.

The Nittany Lion hopes to bring many with him next weekend to face Wiscoisn for the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis.

The Nittany Lion hopes to bring many with him next weekend to face Wisconsin for the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis.

Traditional Penn State Guest Game Analyst and Alum John Massimilla and his son Brian, also a PSU alum,  are thinking about it.  We talked after the game that like many other PSU fans, we never imagined this happening.  I told John that I’m already booked next week as he knew, but if the Nittany Lions go to Tampa, count me in if he can come up with the tickets.   We never thought about this during last season’s spring game nor early this season after a 2-2 start. will forgo the trip to Indy (kickoff 8 pm EST).  We committed already to attend the American Athletic Championship if Navy would host it in Annapolis.  As anticipated, Navy won over SMU (but wow, 75-31!) to take the Western Division, and Temple defeated East Carolina, 37-10, to win the Eastern Division.  Temple’s tie-breaker with South Florida, both 7-1 in AAC play, was based on their head to head win we attended on October 20 when the Owls beat the Bulls at The Linc, 46-30. The game will kick off at 12 noon EST, and we will be there with the usual suspects for the first time in Naval Academy football history that the Mids will be playing for a conference championship.    So as not to confuse Sir Charles Barkley as depicted in the NCAA basketball commercials two seasons ago, we will be heading to Annapolis this weekend and not Indianapolis.  And we say, “Go Navy!”

Extra points:  Give HC James Franklin a lot of credit for not only revamping his coaching staff, but for letting them manage the aspects of their game.   This year’s two victories we’ve seen are indications that he’s learned to let his coaching staff do what they do best, and that is to let them coach the game.  We can see the improvement in that compared to a year ago.  John Pry, Associate HC, took over defensive coordinator duties after the departure of Tom Shoops to Tennessee after last season.  Joe Moorhead left after a successful stint at Fordham as HC to take over the as offensive coordinator and has put together a very effective, quick hitting offense.  QB Trace McSorely is on target to leave behind a few records at QB in State College.  New O-Line coach Mike Limegrover seems to have made some headway this year on improving a very-undermanned line.  Already, some younger players seemed to be adding some depth to the once beleaguered unit.  Tim Banks came in from Illinois and had previously coached with Franklin at Maryland.  The secondary continues to look strong with great depth among that group of players.    Franklin has kept most of the staff he brought with him from Vanderbilt intact.  You know these guys have to know what they’re doing.  The last two of three seasons under Franklin at Vanderbilt, they went 9-4 both seasons and won two bowls games.  I’m talking about Vanderbilt here.  James Franklin’s strength has always been recruiting.  If he lets these guys coach their positions the way they are, that will only bolster is recruiting prowess.  Over the weekend, they won over a five-star Florida commit who plays for The Hun School in Princeton, NJ.  The future is starting to look even brighter now in Happy Valley.  And the present looks better than anyone anticipated now, too.  Much more sooner than expected.  Way to go, James Franklin.

Note bottom photo. Current PSU HC James Franklin starred for ESU. Future NE Patriot OT Joe Andruzzi played for Southern Connecticut.

Note bottom photo. Current PSU HC James Franklin (9) graced the cover of the East Stroudsburg game program when we watched the Warriors host Southern Connecticut in 1994.


Game 525: Stanford Cardinal wins The Big Game over Cal Bears; McCaffery rambles for 284 rushing yards and three TDs

Stanford Cardinal wins The Big Game over Cal Bears; McCaffrey rambles for 284 rushing yards and three TDs

Berkeley, California – Stanford let Christian McCaffrey loose and he rushed for 284 yards and three TDs in the second half to lead the Stanford Cardinal to a 45-31 win at California Memorial Stadium in the traditional Big Game rivalry over Cal. It was’s first trip here and another great rivalry attended.  A constant cold, steady rain could not slow the Soph RB down as he ignited his team’s lead with a 90-yard touchdown run early in the second half.

Our first game at Caifornia Memorial Stadium.

Our first game at California Memorial Stadium.

For, the cold, damp, dreary weather prevented us from heading down to San Jose afterward to see the SJSU Spartans host Air Force as we recently planned.  With clothing to dry out, a 4 a.m. wake up call to fly out, heavy traffic getting out, , I aborted the mission and glad I did.  Some other time maybe.  This game alone though was worth the entire effort.


During the first half, California (4-7, 2-6) would take leads, but Stanford would retaliate right away.   On the very first Golden Bear play from scrimmage, QB Davis Webb (34 for 57, 393 yards, two TDs) connected with WR Chad Hansen on a slant pattern over the middle and he took it to the house for a 70-yard catch and run. With the help of a short kickoff to avoid McCaffrey from breaking off long returns, Stanford started with great field position any way.  Cal HC Sonny Dykes must have figured short kicks were better than long TD returns as he stayed with that special team strategy the entire game.  Two plays later, QB Keller Chryst ran a misdirection bootleg for a 16-yard TD run to tie it up, 7-7.

Cal QB Davis Webb rolls right looking for a receiver early against the Stanford Cardinal.

Cal QB Davis Webb looks for a receiver in the first half against the Stanford Cardinal.

In the second period, Bears RB Tre Watson, one of three very quick, mighty mites in the Cal backfield, scored on a seven-yard run.  The Stanford Cardinal responded immediately with another scoring drive. Chryst lofted a pass down the middle into the outstretched hands of his TE Dalton Schultz near the end zone for a nine-yard score.   Tied at 14-14, Cal’s Matt Anderson pushed a FG attempt wide right. As the half ended, Stanford Cardinal PK Conrad Ukropina delivered a 40-yard FG to take their first lead of the game, 17-14.

ILB Mustafa Branch stops a Cal RB near the goal line.

ILB Mustafa Branch stuffs a Cal RB near the goal line.

Wrapped in rain gear from head to foot, I decided not to leave my seat during halftime as I was going to be as dry and as comfortable as I was going to be.  I didn’t want to unravel.  Cal’s Marching Band is pretty good, and I give their student body with seats their on the 50-yard line behind their team (more schools should do this) credit for staying throughout this rivalry game despite the weather and the odds.


Halftime entertainment started with the students doing a card section with multi-colored placards, but damned if I could tell even on the video board directly in front to me what the messages were supposed to be.  One may have been a pizza with a lot of toppings at best.  Later, I thought maybe they tried to form a hallucinogenic dream considering the area’s history, but I doubt it.  The band did a tribute to the award-winning rock band “Queen”.  Pretty good – “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We are the Champions” were performed, although the latter was not indicative of how their football team would play in the second half.

Cal's student body card section let fly all the colored placards after their performance. It didn't look any more clear before this when they held up their "messages".

Cal’s student body card section let fly all their colored placards after their performance. It didn’t look any more clear before this when they held up their “messages”.

The third period started like the first, but with Cal punting first and the Stanford Cardinal getting the ball deep in its territory this time.  From the ten, the quick-footed, turn-on-a-dime McCaffrey hovered, looked for his blocking, darted left, and raced past one defender on the outside for a 90-yard TD.  Stanford extended the lead, 24-14.  It was the California Golden Bears chance now to retaliate.  Anderson got three back with his 43-yard FG. McCaffrey was on a roll now however,  and Stanford HC David Shaw set up his offense to take advantage.  He finished the next drive with an 11-yard TD run as he piled up the yards.  Before the period ended, Watson scored his second TD for the Bears who climbed back within range, 31-24, to end the third period.  Despite impressive numbers, Webb (34 of 57, 393 yards, two TDs), misfired often today.  It could have been the weather, but he missed on many passes to the flat in this West Coast style offense.

Christian McCaffrey (5) lets his blockers clear a path before he bolts for his 90-yard TD run.

Christian McCaffrey (5) lets his blockers clear a path before he bolts on his 90-yard TD run.

In the final period, McCaffrey finished off a drive with a one-yard TD run to go up 38-24, and the Stanford Cardinal seemingly put the game away to get “The Axe” as Chryst put air under the ball to find WR Trenton Irwin who made a nice over the shoulder catch in the end zone for a 30-yard TD reception to extend the lead to 45-24. With 3:01 remaining, the Bears tried to come back as “the Champions” their band alluded to at halftime.  Webb completed one of his long pass attempts of the day, and then he followed with a 16-yard TD pass to Hansen (7 catches for 114 yards, two TDs) who wrestled the ball away from a Stanford Cardinal defender to close the score, 45-31.  Their subsequent onsides kick attempt failed, and the Stanford Cardinal proceeded to run out the clock.

WR Irwin Trenton beats a defender to the end zone for his 30-yard touchdown catch.

Stanford Cardinal WR Irwin Trenton beats a defender to the end zone for his 30-yard touchdown catch.

The Stanford team stormed the field with the Axe for the seventh year in a row.  They rallied to sing their alma mater along with their fans in the south end zone where I also sat.  Special thanks to my great friend Karen Croft, Stanford Cardinal (nee Indian) legacy, alum, and fan who got me this ticket! As much as she’s Stanford through and through, she just refuses to set foot on the Cal-Berkeley campus.  We had a nice dinner together the night before at her favorite restaurant, Café Zoetrope.  I still have yet to see a game at Stanford, so we’ll have to get a date set up again in an upcoming season. Maybe San Jose State will be playing conveniently nearby for my sake as well to add another venue to my growing list.

The Stanford Cardina take back the Axe for teh seventh year in a row over Cal. They now lead in his rivalry with a record of 62-46-1.

The Stanford Cardinal take back the Axe for the seventh year in a row against Cal. They now lead in the 6th longest rivalry with a record of 62-46-1.

Stanford (8-3, 6-3) hosts Rice next Saturday in kind of a strange season finale after having just played in The Big Game.  Cal will host UCLA.  It’s generally a tradition for UCLA to finish up with USC, but when Notre Dame comes to play in L.A., thanks to Mrs. Knute Rockne, the Trojans finish their season against the Irish, so UCLA gets Cal to finish up. heads to familiar territory next weekend when we see No. 8 Penn State (9-2, 7-1) host Michigan State (4-7, 1-7) who scared Ohio State Saturday in a 17-16 loss.

More good news for, with Navy’s  66-31win over East Carolina Saturday, it looks like we’ll be heading back down to Annapolis or possibly Philly the week after next to see the Mids battle with Temple for the AAC Championship.  It doesn’t get better than this!  Another great season.  Now how about Penn State in the Peach Bowl on New Year’s Day where we already plan to be?  With a win over Michigan State and a win over Wisconsin for the Big Ten Championship, why not?  They already beat Ohio State, and if the Buckeyes can take care of Michigan…

Cal WR Demetris Robertson (8) with a catch for a short gain.

Cal WR Demetris Robertson (8) with a catch for a short gain.

Extra points: Cal has three mighty mite backs as I referred to them –  Tre Watson (5′ 10″) , Khlafani Muhammed (5’9″), and Bug Rivera (5’8″) – all looking very short in stature compared to the Cardinal defenders. Muhammed may be the short in stature but he sure runs tough.  Taller tacklers seem to hurt themselves because he’s about chest high when they put a hit on him.

Dan Donnelly of Dan’s Tailgate blog suggested to go to Pappy’s Sports Bar on Telegraph nearby, but after I familiarized myself with the campus and with all the rain, the place was too crowded to catch up on other games before our 2:30 PT kickoff.  Jim Buckley, a Cal grad, suggested going to Top Dog on Bancroft for what he claims makes “the best hot dogs in the world”.  A small place with no seating, a soggy hot dog couldn’t cut it for me today.  Too bad they don’t sell in California Memorial Stadium. I bought two there.  After I ate one, I threw to other out because the first was so bad.  If you know me, I eat everything.

I had asked these guys and my Nevada connection Paul Andrew about the parking horrors there, and they all provided suggestions.  I saw signs for parking from $30 at the local high school a distance away to $90 closer to campus.  I got to a parking garage Jim suggested at about 10:30 am on Durant near Telegraph and lucked out. Jim told me for the Washington game, he paid $45.  I think someone there screwed up this weekend, and they had to make up for it.  When I first pulled in, the sign read “Event Parking – $4”.  Wow! How lucky was I? Well later when I walked by during my self-tour to a public restroom, that sign changed to $35.  OK, better than $45, I thought.  Somebody must have said something.  I was good when the automated system charged me only $16!  It’s these little things that help me keep affording to do this.

Running "bare"?

Running “bare”?

By the way, Paul Andrew’s father played football for Cal back in the 1950’s under Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf. Pappy’s record at Cal was 67-32-4 from 1947 to 1956. He guided the Golden Bears to three Rose Bowl from 1948-50.  He’s in the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.  Beyond that, his former players organized “Pappy’s Boys” who still celebrate their successes today and help finance and support the current California Bear program in many ways, probably their greatest tribute to their former head coach.

A statue of Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf on The University of California campus.

A statue of former Head Coach Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf on The University of California campus.

Here’s my SEC gripe today. Next to last weekend of the season. Chattanooga?  Alabama A&M? West Carolina? Louisiana-Monroe? Austin Peay? Texas-San Antonio?  If not for the previous hurricane postponement of LSU at Florida, add Presbyterian and South Alabama to that list of generally-speaking cupcakes on the SEC schedules.  Every other conference is playing meaningful conference games this week. The Big 10 and Pac-12 even added one additional conference game this year to play a total of nine.  Why can’t the SEC do the same instead of scheduling opponents like these?  A supposed respite because of the big rivalries the following week? Bull!

It’s all about the money. Play a chump for a win to get that sixth win in case a particular team is on the borderline to get to a bowl.  They keep turning down the opportunity to play another team in their other, respective division. The problem is the SEC doesn’t like competition against the best including their over-rated foes in a conference that should be named “Alabama and everybody else”.   A loss to another “tough” conference foe for some may preclude them from getting another home game.  Oops! I meant bowl game, ha-ha! Who are they kidding?  It means more money, but the reality is that they’re cowards! Rivalry week means some will be facing Clemson, Florida State, and Georgia Tech this week. Let’s see how these turn out.  They wouldn’t play these either if not for traditions.

Cal cheerleaders kept their fellow students rocking throughout the game.

Cal’s cheerleaders kept their fellow students rocking throughout the course of the game despite the cool, rainy conditions even while trailing late. week 11 Preview – Week 11

This week 11 is our first left coast weekend since bowl week of 2010.  My then 15-year old son Eric (now CPO 2/c, US Navy) and I flew to Arizona to attend the Holiday Bowl in San Diego and the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona. The games were disappointing.  In a very uneventful Holiday Bowl, Washington defeated Nebraska, 19-7.  My most vivid memory was how over-rated Husky QB Jake Locker was.  In the Fiesta, a mediocre Big East Champ, Connecticut, followed us out much to our chagrin.  The Oklahoma Sooners dominated them in a 48-20 ho-hum victory. Well, this time we’re in the San Francisco Bay area for “The Big Game” to add to our list of great rivalries attended, and as a last-minute bonus due to TV scheduling, we will attend a game at nearby San Jose State.

      Stanford (7-3, 5-3) visits Cal (4-6,2-5) at California Memorial Stadium.  We don’t expect this one to be dull.  We look for a high-scoring battle led by Christian McCaffery of the Cardinal to pick up a lot of yards rushing, receiving, and returning. He sat out the earlier Cardinal 17-10 win against Notre Dame we attended sidelined by an injury.  On the others side, we figure to see Cal QB Davis Webb continue to dominate the air waves. He’s thrown for 3,601 yards and 33 TDs this season.  

     To cap off Week 11 in San Jose, the Spartans (3-7,2-4) will host the Air Force Academy (7-3,3-3) in a Mountain West game.   It will be the second time in two weeks that we will see the Falcons play a game on the road. We saw them defeat Army, 31-12, to win the 2016 Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. QB Arion Worthman is 2-0 filling in for injured Nate Romine as the Falcons got by Colorado State last week, 49-46. The triple option should effectively confuse the Spartan defenders already giving up 36 points per game.  This will be our second SJSU game. We saw them throttled by Fresno 45-7 in 2005. Not much has changed for the Spartans since though they has a few good seasons a few years back. 

   D3 playoffs start this week. Johns Hopkins got the No. 1 seed in the east.  Wisconsin-Whitewater, Mary Hardin Baylor of Texas, and St. Thomas of Minnesota are the top seeds in the other regions. Perennial power Mt. Union was ranked No. 1 all season long until John Carroll knocked them off in the season finale last week, 31-28. The Purple Raiders will visit Hobart in upstate New York Saturday.  If they win, they will most likely play at Johns Hopkins if the Blue Jays get by Randolph-Macon for an interesting second round match-up.

   The Saturday of December 17 is open for us.  We’ll be looking at opportunities to see James Madison possibly host a game that weekend. The D3 championship will be played in Salem, VA the night before, but we already have an obligation that night. S’am Houston State under former Delaware and Rowan HC K.C. Keeler is ranked No. 1 in the FCS.  As usual, he’s relying on about a dozen FBS cast-offs on his roster.

   With Houston’s devastating 36-10 win over Louisville last night, we better not see Houston ranked ahead of Navy! We saw the Mids run all over the Cougars which the Cardinals could not do with Lamar Jackson. Navy lost to rival Air Force and looked bad against USF in a 52-45 loss in Tampa. However, they beat Houston and the Cougars other loss is to SMU.  Navy needs to beat ECU this weekend to clinch the AAC West and then plays at SMU.  They win both then they should play Temple for the AAC championship. In the Armed Forces Services Bowl they will play a Big 12 team.  We hope the Big 12 has the guts to send Oklahoma to play Navy in Fort Worth.  If the Mids run the table, no excuse for them to be second fiddle to Houston in the poll.  They beat he vaunted Cougars head-on this season.

     Harvard, Princeton and Penn could wind up in a three-way tie for first place this weekend all with 6-1 records. No tie-breaker.  Only in the Ivy League.  We kind of like their uniqueness, but we wished they would go to the FCS playoffs.  This logjam would probably require a couple of coin flips. 

      Our Bowl season has fallen into place nicely. We got our tickets ordered for the New Era Pinstripe and Chik-Fil-A Peach Bowl for the CFP.  We’re figuring that Alabama will be “hosting” on New Year’s Eve, so we got out tix early.  The Music City and Military will also be committed to soon.  And somehow we’re going to find our way to Tampa on January 9. 

Stay tuned!  Man, this season goes too fast! Week 11 already.

Game 524: Navy Midshipmen running game outduels Tulsa passing game, 42-40

Navy Midshipmen running game outduels Tulsa passing game, 42-40

Annapolis, MD- The Tulsa Golden Hurricanes outgained the Navy Midshipmen in total yards 576 to 501, but the efficient USNA triple-option rushing attack garnered 390 yards on the ground to outscore the Hurricanes, 42-40.  For the fifth consecutive game, Navy QB Will Worth rushed for over 100 yards.  He accounted for three rushing TDs and threw for another.  The win for the Navy Midshipmen (7-2,5-1) put them in control of their championship destiny.  With two American Athletic games remaining against East Carolina and SMU the next two weeks, wins over both will give the Mids the AAC West title and a berth in the championship game on December 3 at noon.  The host site has yet to be determined.  Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day for the game and for tailgating with great friends.  We all hope that we’ll have a chance to do this again in Annapolis on December 3.

A beautiful day for a Navy football game in Annapolis!

A beautiful day for a Navy football game in Annapolis!

Tulsa deferred the ball to the potent Navy offense to start the game.  Dishan Romine returned the kick to the TU 43.  Slot back Darryl Bonner took it over from the four for the Navy lead after the opening series.  Tulsa answered on its very first play from scrimmage as WR Keevan Lucas hauled in a 76-yard pass beating the Mid secondary to tie it up before a suddenly disappointed Navy crowd of 36,397.  Next time the Hurricanes started a drive from their 27, they took it to the Navy 12 where PK Redford Jones gave them the lead, 10-7, with a 29-yard FG.  Navy’s running game was on the attack again as Romine took the option pitch and raced 41 yards to regain the lead, 14-10.  The ensuing kickoff was bobbled by Tulsa and Navy kick coverage cut down Tulsa at their one.  A punt put Navy back in possession from their 31, and they drove from there into the second period.

Navy Midshipman RB Dishan Romine carries the ball toward Navy goal line.

Navy Midshipmen RB Darryl Bonner carries the ball toward goal line for first Navy score.

The Navy Midshipman hit pay dirt as Worth plunged over the goal from the one for a 21-10 lead.  A minute and a half later, Tulsa cut the lead once again. WR Josh Atkinson (5 catches for 102 yards, 1 TD) caught the ball wide open on the right sideline and ran it in for a 56-yard catch and run to trail, 21-17.  Navy’s ensuing possession was kept alive buy Worth who converted a first down on a fourth and one at the Tulsa nine.   He connected with TE Tyler Carmona who made a twisting, diving catch as he fell in the end zone for an 11-yard TD pass to go up, 28-17.  The Golden Hurricanes were not backing down.  From their 25, they got into FG range where Jones converted three more points with 42 seconds remaining in the first half.  It was a good, offensive battle combining Navy patience and Tulsa explosiveness.  The Navy Midshipman led at intermission, 28-20. Which offense would stumble, or better yet, which defense would step up?

Tulsa QB Dane Evans threw for 369 yards and four TDs without much pressure.

Tulsa QB Dane Evans threw for 369 yards and four TDs without much pressure.

The day was perfect for tailgating – the weather, the company, and the cuisine. A cloud did not appear in the sky all day.  The noon kickoff got us all started early in the chilly morning.  Brian Donnelly brought his now famous Old Bay Chicken wings.  “Navy Al” brought ribs prepared by his son, a chef at a restaurant in Pennsylvania.   Dennis and Tracy brought chili for a “local” Gate 1 tailgate Chili Cook-off.  For the second year in a row, their recipe earned them the trophy!  With all these great tailgate traditions, I added the cannolis brought down from New Jersey.  Everybody enjoyed these along with all the snacks and beverages.   Great time!  It makes us sorry that the college football season is always so short.  Tailgating is one of the all-time great American traditions to bring people together and make great, new friendships!  And it’s greatest with a great bunch of people at a great football venue with great traditions, especially when our football team keeps winning.

Rounding up some of the suspects at our tailgate party at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Rounding up some of the suspects at our tailgate party at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

The Golden Hurricanes were on the move to start the second half.  On a fourth and five at the Navy 44, QB Dane Evans (16 for 27, 369 yards, 4 TDs, 1INT) completed a 17-yard pass to Justin Hobbs to keep their opening drive alive.  However, CB Tyris Wooten stopped the drive as he deflected Evans’ pass in the end zone into the air and hauled it in for a Navy Midshipman interception. It was a critical defensive stop as the ball was picked from a possible TD.  The ensuing Navy drive was turned over on downs at the TU 38.  Evans didn’t come up empty this time as he connected with WR Keenan Johnson for a 31-yard TD pass to cut the score down to 28-27.  Navy was under the gun to extend the lead, and they did not disappoint.  Following two offensive penalties, on third and 16, Worth (6 for 8, 111 yards, 1 TD) passed to Bonner for 28 yards down to the TU 21.

Navy DB Tyris Wooten breaks up a pass during the first half.

Navy DB Tyris Wooten breaks up a pass during the first half.

Into the fourth, the drive continued until Worth faked the handoff and ran the option left for a 15-yard touchdown run and a 35-27 Navy lead.  Tulsa had to keep firing passes to keep pace with the Navy Midshipmen.   Desperately facing a forth and eight at USNA’s 45, Hobbs (5 catches for 123 yards) made a diving catch at the Navy one just short of the goal line, and one play later, Evans scored on a dive option to the left. Trailing 35-33, the Hurricanes went for two.  Evans came up short on his run by inches. Neither team was quitting.  Five plays and 69 yards later, Worth kept the ball around left end on the option and raced down field for a 44-yard scoring play for his third of the day on the ground. Though Tulsa trailed by nine needing two scores, the way these offenses could both score, a comeback still didn’t seem insurmountable.   With 5:30 remaining, Evans hit TE Chris Minter on a 22-yard slant pass over the middle to put the Hurricanes within two, 42-40.

Tusla TE Chris Minter about to haul in a touchdwon pass.

Tulsa WR Keenan Johnson about to haul in a 31-yard touchdown pass from Dane Evans.

An onside recovery could put Tulsa into the possibility of taking the lead back for good with a last second FG.  Like last week in the 28-27 win over Notre Dame, the Mids would have to look to run out the clock. They did it with seven minutes the week before.  Tulsa kicked off hoping to stop the Midshipmen on downs. They only had one time-out remaining. The possession started from the 25.  The Mids did what they do very well. The controlled the clock.  They ran three downs to convert a first down. They let the clock run down to within ten seconds before the started calling the signals.  On third and nine, WR Jamar Tillman came up short by a yard on a sweep. Tulsa used its last time-out.  Worth narrowly carried it for one yard for the first down by inches. The Mids retained possession, and Tulsa was out of time-outs. An unsportsmanlike penalty was walked off against the Hurricanes, and Navy went into the victory formation.  For the 15th consecutive time, the Navy Midshipmen prevailed in a home game. It was the second longest live streak of its kind only to Clemson who had won 20 straight until it was beaten at home this Saturday by Pitt, 43-42.

Navy Midshipman opening song at every home game: "Danger Zone!" That is what Navy - Marine Corps Stadium has become to Navy opponents who have lost 15 straight here to the Mids.

Navy Midshipmen opening song at every home game: “Danger Zone!” That is what Navy – Marine Corps Stadium has become to Navy opponents who have lost 15 straight here to the Mids.

Tulsa (7-3,4-2 AAC West) visits Central Florida (6-4,4-2) next.  Navy makes up a postponed game when they travel to visit the East Carolina Pirates (3-7,1-5). travels out west for an unexpected double feature now that the game times have been finalized.     As planned, we will see Stanford (7-3, 5-3) visit the Cal Bears (4-6,2-5) in their traditional rivalry, The Big Game.     We look forward to seeing the RB Christian McCaffery of the Cardinal play since he was out injured when we saw Stanford beat Notre Dame earlier in the year, 17-10. We also look forward to seeing Cal QB Davis Webb with his 3,601 passing yard and 33 TDs challenge the Cardinal defense.  It could be similar in scoring to this week’s Navy-Tulsa game.   The kickoff is slated at 2:30 pm PST.  We figure that since we don’t have a tailgate planned after (other possibilities for pre-game, however), we will head down to the Air Force (7-3, 3-3) at San Jose State (4-6,2-5) Mountain West Conference game starting at 7:30 pm PST – two new venues to add this weekend!

Worth pitches out to Bonner on the option.

Worth pitches out to Bonner on the option.

Navy drum line before the game in our parking lot.

Navy drum line before the game in our parking lot.

Navy Midshipmen mascot Bill came out in his camos for this game after Veterans' Day.

Navy Midshipmen mascot Bill came out in his camos for this game after Veterans’ Day.

Navy looks to sink the East Carolina Pirates next Saturday.

Navy looks to sink the East Carolina Pirates next Saturday.


Game 523: Air Force Falcons fly past Army to win Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, 31-12; A game we will never forget for the wrong reason

Air Force Falcons fly past Army to win Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, 31-12;

A game we will never forget for the wrong reason

West Point, NY – The Air Force Falcons (6-3) struggled with the Cadets of Army early, but outscored the Black Knights of the Hudson (5-4) 21-6 in the second half to defeat the second of their biggest rivals this year, 31-12.  With the combined victories against Navy (28-14) and Army this season, the Air Force Academy claimed its 21st title to the Commander in Chief’s trophy for football supremacy among the three major service academies.  The Falcons take the hardware back from Navy who took it back from them last season. It turned out to be a beautiful day for a football game along the Hudson where the fall colors dominated the landscape late in the season after a very dry summer and fall.  Guest Game Analyst Brian Donnelly (Towson) and I looked forward with great anticipation to this rivalry with hopes that an Army win would make this year’s Army-Navy game even more significant. Already Army will be challenging USNA end its 15-game losing streak against the Mids when they play for the 147th time on December 10 in Baltimore this year.  However,’s 523rd game will be remembered now by both of us or a more unique and almost tragic experience that neither one of us will ever forget.

"On Brave Old Army team, on to the fray..."

“On Brave Old Army team, on to the fray…”

The two teams meeting for the 51st time (the Air Force Falcons lead the series 36-14-1 now) both ran only one complete series during the first period with the USAFA misfiring on a 47-yard FG attempt wide left.  Army started on the move into the second period before punting.

The Air Force Falcons fumbled away in its next possession to give Army the ball on their own 42.  The Black Knights drove to the Falcon 17 when QB Ahmad Bradshaw (5 of 15, 84 yards passing; 16 carries for 41 yards rushing) lofted a pass into the end zone where S Weston Steelhammer picked it off.  From the 20, Air Force Falcon QB Arion Worthman, making his first start filling in for injured Nate Romine, took to the air.  He connected with WR Jalen Robinette for 45 yards to the Army 35.  On third and 15, he connected again with Robinette (three receptions for 104 yards) for 25 yards to the Army 15.  The Black Knight defense stiffened and the Falcons settled for Luke Strebel’s 20-yard FG to take a 3-0 lead.  The next Air Force series started with a pass to Robinette once again, this time for 34 yards down to the Army 21.  This time, FB Shayne Davern broke up the middle for a 17-yard TD run to give the Air Force Falcons a 10-0 lead. Army finally got its offense on the move starting from the 35.  With an unbalanced line to the left, Bradshaw took the snap from the right tackle position. RB Kell Walker took the handoff and swept around the left end and down along the sideline for a 30-yard touchdown scamper.  Air Force blocked the point after to maintain a 10-6 lead.  With the Army kickoff going out of bounds to give the Air Force the ball on the 35 with two time-outs left, HC Troy Calhoun surprisingly opted not to go deep and let the clock run out satisfied with a four-point lead going into halftime.

The USMA silent drill team performed. The Army Band went “Rock Star” with guitars in front.  Sounding very strong with the horn section, they finished up with the Army dance team in costume to Michael Jackson’s classic, “Thriller”.  Brian and I had started the day with light tailgate of sorts expecting to hit some delays on the way in.  Having to catch a bus eventually from somewhere on the sprawling campus (the Commissary/PX eventually), we planned to be up at Michie Stadium for the traditions and festivities before the 12-noon kick-off.  He hadn’t been there in ten years, and we both looked figured that this could be a competitive game after having both seen Army defeat a good Temple team in their season opener.  We bussed up to Michie and toured the perimeter of the stadium to check out concessions and some pregame entertainment.  We walked through the pregame festivities of Black Knights’ Alley between the east side of Michie and Lusk Reservoir.  I looked for a new Army decal to add to my collection of stickers from schools I’ve seen games at to adorn my cooler.

Tradition: Army Mule

Tradition: Army Mules

As we were about to enter the concession area under the visitors’ side, I suddenly heard the loud acceleration of an engine directly behind me.  Before I could turn, I suddenly got rammed hard by something that struck me on the right side in the middle of my back. It seemed to recoil quickly and hit me again knocking me to the ground where I caught myself falling to the ground primarily on my right side.  Realizing I was being run over, I maneuvered my leg right leg now on the ground quickly to get out of the way of a tire I felt about to run over me. Suddenly and luckily, it stopped as quickly as it had started.  I had no idea what slammed me down to the ground until I got up and turned around to see what the hell it was!  A Gator utility vehicle with a fenced in bed had been floored and backed into me.  Brian was shocked and checked to see if I was ok.  On the seat of the vehicle were three little kids, maybe pre-school age. Brian had heard a woman say right before he also heard the engine rev up, “Don’t touch anything.” What I first thought to me a military display for the Black Knight Alley for kids’ pictures was probably a delivery wagon that got left while the driver made a delivery in the concession area, and these kids jumped on the pedal to throw it backwards.  What were their parents thinking? Brian and I both talked about it later.   It stopped as quickly as it started. Luckily, I was standing.  Only seconds before I might have gotten run over by this machine for which I could have been a lot worse.  Young kids with camouflage paints on their faces were coming up to ask me if I was alright.  A lot of people were around and saw what happened.    My jacket sleeve was torn. My binoculars dangling under my arm got broken from my forced fall to the pavement.  I didn’t feel much pain right away and until some young M.P.s came around almost immediately to assist.  I only then realized that one of my fingers was bleeding.  A woman holding a young girl insisted that I get checked out right away.  I realized my ball cap was missing and eventually found that it had landed on impact in the bed of the Gator.  The MPs took information, contacted their chain of command, and an EMT was there to put a clip on my finger toe check my pulse – “104,” he said. I think they were most worried about me passing out. My head never touched the ground, but I kind of got whiplashed as I went down.  With a sister that had complications after a car accident she walked away from a few years ago, I agreed to have things checked out with first aid on the other side of the stadium.  I figured better safe than sorry. and I wanted it all on record just in case.  I refused to be taken to a hospital (I didn’t want to explain to anyone then that the reason was Game # 523).  I felt ok. The MPs asked for info to file a report.  Then, several soldiers escorted me on the way to the first aid station under the west side of the stadium.

There, they took care of the abrasions I originally didn’t feel on my right elbow and ankle (No, I wasn’t wearing my shorts as usual luckily).  The Army emergency doctor saw a red mark on my back and figured I would be feeling it more later.  They were concerned, and took good care of me.  My BP normalized and an EMT, Paul, took care of my abrasions we were aware of.  The Army doctor gave me some Motrin, but had no water, of all things.  Another Army officer in civvies apparently planning to attend the game came in to see me.  I think that they were most concerned that I may have injured my head and kept me talking.  Brian could hear in the waiting room just on the other side of a curtain. He told the others, “I hear him talking a lot. He’s fine.”  Of course, they got me talking about college football, so what would he have expected?

Of course, the topic came up that I was a Navy and Penn State fan.  The visiting officer asked me what my affiliation was with the Navy.  I admitted to the West Pointers that I had attended Annapolis for two years, but their attempts to make me into an engineer just didn’t work out.  I also told him that my son is a Petty Officer in the Navy down in Little Creek to which he responded, “Uh-rah”.

Then, he finally got into who I was rooting for today.  I told him I was rooting for Army today because I wanted the Army-Navy game to be a battle for the CIC Trophy. If Army won today and Navy beat them in December, the Trophy would remain in Annapolis.  I told him that I was at the Army win over Temple and the loss to Buffalo. I told him Army has the right coach for their program in Jeff Monken.  Of course, they were all impressed when I told them today’s game was my 523rd, and that I was still married to the same woman and raised two kids.  Then the question came up for my prediction about today’s game against the Air Force Falcons.  He pressed me adding, “if you were a betting man.”

To his chagrin I’m sure, I told him I had to go with Air Force.  Both teams knew how to defend against the option, and the winner would have to find a way to win by passing today.  I gave that advantage to Air Force.  That’s how they beat Navy this year I told him, and in back of my mind I remembered how they beat Utah State 35-28, in my first trip to Colorado Springs the previous season.  I saw Jalen Robinette have a big day.  Army couldn’t match them with Bradshaw who I’ve seen play during the last two seasons.  By this time, Brian came in and told me I should have told them I was predicting Army to win.  He said, “These guys are here to save your life.”  They asked. I told them how I saw it. I felt my head was clear, but I was just hoping everything would turn out to be alright.  Read on.

You’ll see that my prediction was pretty much on target.  (Update:  feeling ok on Sunday. New bandages and lots of Neosporin.  My back is feeling better.  Back to the gym before work again on Monday morning.  Thanks to all the people that looked out for me after the accident. I appreciate that they cared so much and convinced me to get looked at).  Note the limited pictures for this game.  Eventually my zoom lensed could not open. Not sure if it was from the fall or not.  No Binos. No camera.  I just continued to make my observations from high above with my bird’s eye view up in section U-15.

Like their sky divers, The air Force Falcon football team landed safely on Blaik Field at Michie Stadium.

Like their sky divers, the Air Force Falcons football flew safely past the Cadets on Blaik Field at Michie Stadium.

The Air Force Falcons got to work on their first series to start the second half.   Their 70-yard drive resulted in a 46-yard TD pass from Worthman to RB Jacob Owens who was wide open near the right sideline to extend the Falcon lead, 17-6. Army came right back though to retaliate.  Bradshaw led the Black Knights on a 76-yard drive culminating with a five-yard fade pass to WR Edgar Poe in the back corner of the end zone.  The Army two-point conversion attempt failed.  They trailed now, 17-12, with hopes to challenge the Air Force to get another six for a lead.  However, Owens sped 59 yards on a run all the way down to the Black Knight six.  At the four, RB Tim McVey took a reverse pitch from the right flank to carry the ball on a sweep left for an Air Force Falcon lead of 24-12.

To begin the fourth, the two archrivals exchanged punts.  On the next USAFA possession starting from their 45, Worthman ran a delayed draw up the middle from the three to give the Air Force Falcons a 31-12 lead with 8:36 left.  Army started to drive again from its 21.  The Black Knight drive ended as did three other drives witnessed within the last 24 hours.  Falcon CB Roland Ludipo intercepted a pass in the end zone.  Air Force was leaving now with a “stop” on the flight home in Annapolis, Maryland to pick up their new hardware for their trophy case.  This will be the 21st season since 1972 that the Air force will celebrate having the Trophy back in Colorado Springs (Navy – 18, Army – 6, last time in 1996).

Well my pre-game pregame prediction “if I were a betting man” was spot on.  And I am feeling better.  Today (Monday), I received a survey from West Point to rate different facets of attending an Army game.  This wasn’t my first survey.  I gave the Black Knight Alley a “very unsatisfied” rating based on the lack of a safety policy in place that could get people more hurt like I was.

The Air Force Falcons return to Mountain West Conference play next week when the meet Colorado State (5-4).  Army has a tough task next Saturday when they meet Notre Dame (3-6) in San Antonio.  The Irish come off a 28-27 loss to Navy, who runs the triple option better than Army does. The Irish should be well-prepared. heads to another big game in Annapolis, where the Mids (6-2, 5-1) host Tulsa (7-2, 5-1) for first place in the AAC west.  If Navy wins, they still have to beat East Carolina and SMU after to get into the title game. If they do and then play Temple in the title game in Annapolis or Philly, we will be there on December 3.  One week later, we will definitely be in Baltimore for the Army-Navy game.  Tulsa scores a lot of points, but they give up a lot, and with Navy’s ball control style at a home game in front of a fired-up Brigade where they’ve won 14 straight, we give them the edge.  Go Navy!  We hope that we will come away with better memories of the upcoming games than we what we came away with this week.

Game 522: The Temple Owls shut out UConn Huskies, 21-0; One step closer to AAC East title

The Temple Owls shut out UConn Huskies, 21-0

East Hartford, Connecticut – The Temple Owls got off to a quick 21-0 lead with :20 remaining in the first quarter.  Thereafter, they dominated the UConn Huskies (3-7, 1-5) defensively to keep the score intact for the 21-0 finale.  UConn started Frosh QB Donovan Williams in place of Soph Bryant Shirreffs who started every previous game.  HC Bob Diaco hoped that the change would spark some offense after three straight losses.  It didn’t work.  The win keeps the Owls ahead of South Florida who they defeated two weeks ago for the AAC East because of their head-to-head win as the 2016 regular season winds down. 

Temple Owls WR Ventell Bryant picks up yardage on one of his four receptions for 82 yards.

Temple Owls WR Ventell Bryant picks up yardage on one of his four receptions for 82 yards.

      For, Guest Game Analyst Matt Wylie (Suffolk University) and I were waylaid by traffic conditions from Stamford to East Hartford.  Typically Fridays are a bad night for travel in Connecticut, but conditions were exasperated by an earlier vehicular fire on I-95 that forced us to take a chance on the Merritt Parkway.  On I-91, an accident about 8 miles from Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, home of the Huskies, caused lane closures that delayed us an extra half hour.  Matt and I took our seats with the Temple Owls ahead leading already, 14-0.  I used reports off the ESPN website to find out what we missed before we got there for this report. 

Temple Owl RB Ryquell Armstead (25) led all rushers with 133 yards in the game.

Temple Owl RB Ryquell Armstead (25) led all rushers with 133 yards in the game.

     We missed two Temple Owl drives finished with touchdown passes from QB PJ Walker to RB Jahad Thomas, former teammates at Elizabeth, NJ High school.    The first Owl drive resulted in a 23-yard TD pass, and their second finished with Thomas (73 yards receiving, two TDs, 83 yards rushing on 16 carries) hauling it in from ten yards away.  Walker (12 of 18 for 215 yards, three TDs, two INTs) completed his first eight passes of the evening.   We just missed UConn’s subsequent drive led by Williams that resulted in a missed 45-yard FG.  Leading 14-0, Temple started its next possession from its 23. Enter  With :20 left in the first period, TE Romond Deloatch caught a pass over the middle and ran it in for an 18-yard TD and the 21-0 lead.  It looked like the game was going to be blow-out.

P.J. Walker fires down field to lead his Temple Owls to a 21-0 win over UConn.

P.J. Walker fires down field to lead his Temple Owls to a 21-0 win over UConn.

     UConn’s offense continued to sputter despite the change at QB.  Along the sideline, Diaco continuously shouted encouragement and clapped his hands hoping to see some improvement.  Despite Diaco’s optimism, the Temple Owls outgained the Huskies in total offense by the end of the game 431 yards to 160.   Williams accounted for 69 passing yards (12 for 21) and 66 rushing yards on 16 carries despite five sacks by the Owls.  RB Ryquell Armstead accounted for 133 Temple rushing yards on 20 carries. 

UConn Safety Obi Melifonwu (20) nabs a Temple Owl pass in the end zone to turn the ball over.

UConn Safety Obi Melifonwu (20) nabs a Temple Owl pass in the end zone to turn back six.

     Though dominating the game clock and sustaining long drives, the Temple Owls’ offense failure to score again can be attributed to one UConn bright spot.  Husky S Obi Melifonwu stopped two potential scoring drives with interceptions in the end zone.  The first came in the second period halting a 54-yard drive, and the second came in the final stanza ending an 87-yard drive.  His tight coverage and closing speed have him under consideration as one of the best DBS in next spring’s pro draft.

Melefonwu shows tight coverage before picking off his second pass of the evening in the end zone.

Melifonwu shows tight coverage before picking off his second pass of the evening in the end zone.

     One step closer to AAC East title

    The Temple Owls (7-3, 5-1) have a bye next Saturday before traveling to Tulane (currently 3-6,0-5) before finishing up the season at Lincoln Financial to host East Carolina (currently 3-6,1-4).  Winning both gets them into the AAC Championship as the East champ on December 3.  HC Matt Rhule and his staff continue to improve this team especially on defense after three key stalwarts graduated from last year’s team and are now on NFL rosters.  We hope to see them in the post season in this game and possibly in the Military Bowl in Annapolis which is one to the AAC’s post-season affiliations.

    UConn also has a bye week coming up which could give Diaco time to work with his offense that now seems to need a lot more improvement.  They will be visiting Boston College (currently 4-5, 1-5) on November 19 for a short and hopefully expeditious trip by bus up to Chestnut Hill.  They will finish their season at home to Tulane. 

       Matt and I headed back to his place in Stamford. He was heading to Maine the next morning as I was getting up early to meet Brian Donnelly for an early start to be at West Point for the 12-noon kickoff for the Air Force-Army game.

The UConn drum line wa certainly on fire Friday evening, but the Husky offense sure wasn't.

The UConn drum line was certainly on fire Friday evening, but the Husky offense sure wasn’t.

 Extra points: Matt and I met for a late lunch/early dinner (“Lunner”?) at Bobby Valentine’s Sports Bar at 225 Main in Stamford.  Great burgers there and plenty of sports memorabilia all over the place.  Great place to watch games and eat some good sports bar food.  Matt says the place was packed for the World Series.  Bobby V., the former major league player for the Dodgers  and manager for the New York Mets and the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball League among others, is now the Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University in nearby Fairfield.  Their FCS record in the Northeast Conference this season is 6-3, 1-3.

Matt gave me some direction on the value and use of Instagram for my website.  I’m going to check things out after the 2016 season.

The Huskies need to give their cheerleading squad more to cheer about!

The Huskies need to give their cheerleading squad more to cheer about!

Game 521: Toreros slay Red Foxes to close in on FCS bid, 27-3

Toreros slay Red Foxes to close in on FCS bid, 27-3

The Red Fox mascot gets young fans fired up before the game for an FCS bid!

The Red Fox mascot gets young fans fired up before the game for an FCS bid!

Poughkeepsie, NY – The Toreros of the University of San Diego traveled 2,800 miles across the country to vanquish conference foe Marist, 27-3, to move one step closer to an FCS bid. The Toreros took advantage of questionable Red Fox defensive calls and the Red Fox offensive strategy that resembled that of a flag football team. enjoyed the tailgating before and after the game with Guest Game analyst Mike Pitch, the Braun family and friends, and the two leading Red Fox defenders after the game – LBs Ruben Avalos (11 tackles) and Jimmy Braun (7 tackles) , senior team captain who played HS football for our local Lenape Valley Patriots (Stanhope, NJ).  The Toreros (7-1,5-0) ventured into Poughkeepsie tied for first place with Marist (4-4, 4-1) to do battle as the only other remaining undefeated team in conference play before this contest.

Marist LBs Jimmy Braun (54) and Ruben Avalos (8) move in for stop near the goal line.

Marist LBs Jimmy Braun (54) and Ruben Avalos (8) move in for stop near the goal line.

San Diego started the scoring right away driving 75 yards on their first possession.  QB Anthony Lawrence connected with TE Ross Dwelley for a nine-yard TD pass.  QB Mike White got the Red Foxes rolling onto the USD one for a first and goal.  However, LB Marcus Vaivao jarred the ball loose from Marcellus Calhoun, and the Toreros took over from there.  An INT by S Wes Beans stopped the USD drive, but the Toreros headed into the second period with the ball on the move once again.

USD TE Ross Dwelly datches pass with LB Jimmy Braun in pursuit.

USD TE Ross Dwelley catches pass with LB Jimmy Braun (54) in pursuit.

PK Patrick Murray booted a 43-yard FG to give the visitors a 10-0 lead.  The next Marist drive ended short on a fourth and ten at the USD 29.  GGA Mike Pitch noted Marist could move the ball effectively until they got within scoring range.  The Toreros did not encounter that problem.  Their next possession ended with Murray booting another.  His three-pointer came from 26 yards away to propel USD to a 13-0 led.  The Marist Red Foxes needed to get some points by sustaining drives nearing the end zone.  This time they drove 62 yards to the Torero six.  However, two incompletions and a three-yard sack resulted in a 27-yard FG by PK Mike Maccarone. Marist trailed at halftime, 13-3.

USD corner Jamal Agnew bats downa pass inetneded for Jusitin Christian (85) of Marist.

USD corner Jamal Agnew bats away a pass intended for Justin Christian (85).

Today’s tailgate was great!  My Bloody Mary’s started the juices flowing on a cool Saturday morning that would eventually warm up by game time.  Mike brought burgers and sausages he grilled to perfection with a choice of cheeses.  Don Braun was set up already when we got there with his grill fired up for dogs and burgers. The beers cooled on ice.   We met Jim and Theresa Dixon whose son Grant is a Frosh LB for the Red Foxes.  Last season, he led Roxbury (NJ) High School to the Group IV playoffs as a QB.  The team finished 8-2 as Grant threw for 18 TDS and no INTs.  Several Marist fans at the game contended many players seemed to be playing positions not considered their strongest.  Hopefully, Grant will get the opportunity to use his QB skills in upcoming years for the Red Foxes so we can return to see what he can do.

One former Red Fox who wasn’t playing out of position evidently is former PK Jason Myers.  He was honored at Tenney Stadium this day as one of two former Marist players now in the NFL.  Myers is currently the PK for the Jacksonville Jaguars.  The other player is DE Terrence Fede of the Miami Dolphins.  Member teams of the Pioneer League are non-scholarship FCS schools.  This will be the fourth year that the League champs receive an automatic FCS bid to the post season playoffs.  Like these two teams, other members are located across the country and only compete with one another in football.  Other schools reside in Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Ohio among others.  It’s truly the most diversely spread out non-FBS conference in the NCAA.

Pre-game tailgating at Marist.

Pre-game tailgating at Marist.

Don Braun proudly displays his Maris Flag with his son Jimmy's hand-painted jersey number 54 on it.

Don Braun proudly displays his Marist Flag with his son Jimmy’s hand-painted jersey “#54” on it.

With the late score in the first half by Marist, we hoped to see now that they could eventually mount some scoring drives into the end zone to challenge the Toreros for the FCS bid.  We always hope that we have local playoff options to attend after the regular season comes to an abrupt end.  The Red Foxes got off to a disappointing start.  A penalty and three incompletions by White resulted in a punt from the 36.  USD could not take advantage.  Murray’s 39-yard attempt failed.  Marist never sustained any drives in the third period.  White (12 of 34, one INT, 175 yards) suffered sacks five times and threw 12 straight incompletions in the third as he threw long on every down.  The only first down recorded was for an interference penalty by the Toreros.  The “game plan” called for a bomb on every play, and the Torero defense seemed to have this figured as they rushed now on every down. Rushing yards for Marist now only came on White’s scrambles to escape pressure.  The offense was sloppy.  Handoffs to runners were a forgone conclusion at this point of the game.  The rest of the backfield carried only seven times for seven yards, mostly in the early phases of the game.

Red Fox QB Mike White (10) looks to pass long or run as he did most of the afternoon.

Red Fox QB Mike White (10) looks to pass long or run as he did most of the afternoon.

San Diego was on the move starting from its 15 heading into the final period but still up by only 10 despite the lack of an effective Red Fox offensive game plan.  Third and short situations caught the Marist defense on a blitz from the secondary on several occasions to get first downs to wide open receivers out to the backfield.  On a third and 22, Lawrence (21 of 35 for 195 yards, 1 TD/1INT) hit WR Brian Riley near the left sideline for a 41-yard gain to the Marist 26.  RB Jonah Hodges did the bulk of the leg work from there eventually scoring on a seven-yard run to give USD a 20-3 advantage.  The next Red Fox possession ended on the next play with S Ray Clark’s INT.  The Toreros used up about five minutes on the clock before Hodges’ fumble was recovered by Marist’s Beans at the 18.  Three White passes fell incomplete, but two were negated by interference.  On first and ten at the 48, Torero LB Jacob Bergstrom sacked White and recovered his fumble at the Marist 42. A 15-yard pass to Dwelley put USD on the one where Hodges (33 carries for 175 yards, 2 TDs, 1 fumble) took it over for the final score of 27-3 with 2:17 left.

Torero RB Jonah Hodges looks for running room against Marist.

Torero RB Jonah Hodges looks for running room against Marist.

The Toreros celebrated with a few hundred fans that followed them to Poughkeepsie.  They would be heading home soon in first place at the top of the Pioneer League all by themselves with a 6-0 mark.  Next week, their non-conference game features a team that is not even of US vintage.  They will be hosting Universidad De Las Americas located in Mexico. They will finish their Pioneer League slate with Stetson (4-4, 2-3) and Campbell (3-4,1-3).  The Red Foxes travel to Stetson next before hosting Dayton (7-2,5-1) and finishing up at Jacksonville (4-3,3-1).  Marist has its work cut out and they or Dayton have to hope for a major upset over the Toreros in the last two weeks if they want any consideration for the conference FCS bid.

We at have a two-fer next weekend.  On Friday night, we will be an East Hartford, Connecticut for a 7 pm game between the Temple Owls (6-3,4-1) visiting the UConn Huskies (3-6, 1-5) In an American Athletic East clash.  Then on Saturday at noon, we will find ourselves at West Point, NY to see the Air Force Academy Falcons (5-3,1-0) battle Army West Point (5-3,0-0) for the second leg of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.  This should be a pretty even match-up for the first time in years.  However, we expect the Air Force to win with what it has that Army doesn’t – air supremacy.  Air Force will go to the air to beat the Cadets and win the C-I-C Trophy.

University of San Diego fans who followed their team to Poughkeepsie.

University of San Diego fans who followed their team all the way to Poughkeepsie to see them in their hunt for an FCS bid.

USD QB Anthony Lawrence fires a pass to get his team near the goal line.

USD QB Anthony Lawrence fires a pass to get his team near the goal line.




Game 520: Penn State Nittany Lions bump off No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes in a “White-out”, 24-21

Penn State Nittany Lions bump off No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes in a “White-out”, 24-21


Nittany Lion White-out!

State College, PA – In front of a fired-up home crowd of 107, 280 garbed mostly in white on Saturday evening in the mystical land called Happy Valley, the Penn State Nittany Lions overcame a stingy Ohio State Buckeye defense when they needed to and relied on big plays by special teams in the final period to come back from a 14-point deficit to upend the undefeated No. 2 team in the nation, 24-21.

It is the first time since 1990 that the Nittany Lions defeated a N0. 2 ranked team.  The victory vaulted the Lions (5-2, 3-1) into the AP 25 at No. 24, and the loss dropped the Buckeyes (6-1, 3-1) down to No. 6.  For, it was great day with friends to tailgate and bar-hop around State College before the highly anticipated game in Beaver Stadium.

The former No. 2 team in the nation before the opening kickoff.

The former No. 2 team in the nation before the opening kickoff.

The two teams played to a scoreless draw in the first period, but a fumbled punt by the Lions’ John Reid set the Buckeyes up at the Lions’ 38.  Five seconds into the second period, PK Tyler Durbin put OSU up by three with a 33-yard FG. Later in the period, OSU Heisman hopeful J.T. Barrett (28 of 43, 245 yards and 1 TD) connected with TE Marcus Baugh who took the 26-yard pass into the end zone to extend the Buckeye lead. With a missed PAT, the lead stood at 9-0. Ohio State’s defense held the Lions to a three and out, and the offense put Durbin back on the field to convert from 30 yards away and a 12-0 lead.

With 1:14 remaining in the half, from their 26 the Nittany Lion offense moved the ball via the airwaves efficiently as QB Trace McSorely (8 for 23, 154 yards, 1 TD) looked down field on three occasions to connect 19 yards to WR Chris Godwin., 34 yards to DaeSean Hamilton, and finally to Godwin once again into the end zone for a 20-yard scoring play to put the Nittany Lions on the scoreboard with nine ticks left.  Going into half time, the Lions had cut the Buckeye lead, 12-7.  Their defense played tough enough to keep Barrett and the offense in check, and HC James Franklin needed his offense to start generating more points. It looked as if the Lions had found some opportunities to make big plays with their passing game. We would see if this would establish some precedent in the second half.

Ohio State QB TJ Barrett feels pressure from the Nittany Lions.

Ohio State QB TJ Barrett feels pressure from the Nittany Lions.

It was a fired-up crowd for sure in Beaver Stadium with the 8 pm kickoff.  Long-time Guest Game Analyst, PSU alum, and cohort John Massimilla and I met in the Beaver Stadium parking lot about 11 am.  With a cool and prevailing wind whipping through the parking lot, we decided to tour downtown State College and go bar-hopping.  We headed out with John’s fellow Penn State alums, his son Brian, future son-in-law, Dex Koser, and their friend Shayne Sexton.  The recent alumni led us on a guided tour and a nostalgic romp through State College. We stopped at the Shandy Gaff (drinks only there, no food) where Dex worked as a student.  At the Phyrst, we feasted on great cheesesteaks and shared a huge Phrench Phries platter.  The guys introduced John and I to “Irish Trash cans” made with vodka, Curacao, Red Bull, and other stuff.  I helped Shayne polish off a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20 (Yuk!).  Never had it before, but I knew it was infamous in certain parts of town when I grew up in Boonton, NJ. On the way, out we were given white, plastic Phyrst hats in honor of the White-out.  People in town were either wearing white or searching the stores for white PSU apparel.    Next we went to the Ye Olde Cigar Shop for a few good cigars and watched some games on TV already under way. I was surprised John didn’t insist that we all walk out because the guy behind the counter was wearing an Ohio State shirt.

For old times sake, we stopped at the Rathskeller, well known for its “Buckets of Rocks” now priced a $19 for a bucket full of Rolling Rock nips.  John remembers when they used to cost seven bucks.  The place was packed.  We caught up on scores while having a round of Rolling Rocks.  We then returned to the parking lot to imbibe in what we’d brought with us to tailgate, and eventually started to pack up for the game.  Before heading into Beaver Stadium, we met up John’s friend, Josh, who owns the refurbished Penn State Tailgate Ambulance we were introduced to at last year’s Rutgers game here.  Josh designed it and outfitted it to bring to games to host his tailgate parties.  Great set-up!  We and over 100,000 others were well-prepared to head in to cheer on the Nittany Lions!  We were all ready for Ohio State, and I predicted an upset!  The Nittany Lions always play the Buckeyes tough at home.

Mas Dog and Nittany Lions at the Pyhrst!

Mad Dog and Nittany Lions at the Pyhrst for the pre-game!

PBR and "Irish Trash Cans" for us Old Schoolers (me and John) at the Phyrst.

PBR and “Irish Trash Cans” for us old schoolers (me and John) at the Phyrst.

Last pre-tailgate stop for old time's sake, The Rathskeller.

Last pre-tailgate stop for old time’s sake, The Rathskeller. I’m wearing my complimentary Phyrst White-out hat.

Ohio State gets off to fast second half start

Starting the second half, the blinding crowd seemed poised for a Penn State comeback, but the Buckeyes’ Curtis Samuel put a brief damper on the spirit as he broke through off right tackle and sped 74 yards all the way for quick TD.  He carried the ball only twice the entire game, and netted 71 yards in the end!  OSU now led, 19-7.  Things started to look a little bleaker for the Nittany Lions to comeback as the Buckeyes forced another PSU punt after a three and out.  The snap from center sailed far out of P Blake Gillikin’s reach. He raced into the end zone to recover it for a safety, avoided a damaging Buckeye touchdown, and gave the Buckeyes a 21-7 lead.

Throughout the game, Ohio State held the upper hand in time of possession (39:17) and total yards (413-276).  The Nittany Lions needed to show some signs of life, especially on offense.  Despite the deficit, the white-out crowd cheered loudly throughout the game and did not let up.  Fans clad in white lifted the team’s spirits with more than a full quarter to go and down by “only” two scores.  The Nittany Lions defense held the Buckeyes to three plays and a punt after the free kick following the safety.

McSorely heads for pylon to cut score 21-14.

McSorely heads for pylon to cut score 21-14.

Entering the final period, Penn State started to drive from its own ten.  McSorely became efficient again.  He came through with a 16-yard completion to TE Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, NJ – Southern Regional HS).   RB Saquon Barkley (12 carries for 99 yards) picked up 37 yards on a carry to the Buckeye 37. WR Saeed Blacknall (Manalapan, NJ) hauled in a 35-yard completion from McSorely at the two.  From there, McSorely raced toward the right pylon to cross the goal line for a PSU TD to put the Nittany Lions within a touchdown with 13:32 left on the clock.  The White-clad crowd was clamoring louder than ever that evening.  The PSU defense thrived on the roar. OSU punted from the 28 after only three plays, and Cameron Brown on the punt-block team blocked the kick to have it recovered right at the original line of scrimmage.  Nittany Lion Tyler Davis booted a 34-yard FG to close the gap to 21-17.  The home crowd roared for the navy blue-clad Lions on every play.  You could feel the anticipation of the upset growing within the delirious crowd.  Some spurts of cold rain fell intermittently during the second half, but the crowd was not affected.  The Buckeyes started their next drive from the 13, and J.T. Barrett led his offense down to the Nittany Lion 28 where they faced a fourth and seven.  HC Urban Meyer elected to add three points to extend the lead to six rather than go for a first down.  Lion Safety Marcus Allen went high to block the attempt and CB Grant Haley picked up the ball and outraced potential Ohio State tacklers for a 60-yard TD to give Penn State a sudden 24-21 lead with 4:21 left.  John was afraid his Nittany Lions had left to much time on the clock.

OSU went on offense after the return was stopped at the eleven.  The Buckeyes needed a FG to tie. They got the ball out to their 42, and on third down, LB Jason Cabinda (Hunterdon Central, NJ) who returned from injury to play today, sacked Barrett for a 13-yard loss. On the next play, Barret dropped back and DE Evan Schwan and DT Kevin Givens combined for a six-yard sack.  PSU went into the victory formation as time wound down.  As the final seconds ticked off, the green turf of Beaver Stadium was covered in streaks of white.  The celebration into the night at State College was just starting!  The undefeated Buckeyes had fallen to 6-1,3-1 in the Big Ten.  Penn State celebrated its first win over a top team for the first time in years.  It seemed to have been a step in the right direction for a team trying to rebuild after several years of sanctions, especially after a 49-10 loss earlier at Ann Arbor against the Wolverines.  The return of LBs Jason Cabinda (12 tackles) and Brandon Bell (Mays Landing, NJ; 19 tackles) definitely bolstered the Nittany Lion defense.


Penn State heads to Purdue (3-4, 1-3) next Saturday.  We plan to be back in State College on November 26 for the Nittany Lions regular season finale when the host the imploding Michigan State Spartans.  Ohio State heads back to Columbus to host improving Northwestern (4-3, 3-1).  Look for the Buckeyes to make a statement here. will drive up to Poughkeepsie, NY for the first time for an FCS Pioneer League match.  The Marist Red Foxes (4-3, 4-0) will host a foe from the farthest reaches of this nationally scattered conference when the University of San Diego Toreros (6-1, 5-0) come calling in the Empire State.  The Red Foxes’ team captain and starting MLB is Jimmy Braun, a former player from our local Lenape Valley Regional HS football program.  We look forward to seeing him play in this battle for first place with a possible FCS playoff bid on the line for the eventual league champion.

Celebration White-out style!

Celebration White-out style!

Game 519: Temple Owls tie South Florida Bulls for first in American East with convincing 46-30 win

Temple Owls tie South Florida Bulls in American East with convincing 46-30 win

"Cheesesteak" Head in Philadelphia. the ones served at Teh Linc I had were delicious!

“Cheesesteak” Head in Philadelphia. The one served at The Linc I had was delicious!

Philadelphia –   The Temple Owls (5-2, 3-1) bested American Athletic Conference East Division foe South Florida  (6-2, 3-1) in an exciting win at the Linc in Philly to end up in first place with a 46-30 victory.  The Owls were led by Soph RB Ryquell Armstead who rushed for 210 yards on 20 carries and two TDs of 46 and 72 yards.  Marlon Macks’ 30-yard TD run for the Bulls in the final period closed the score to 37-30 in favor of the Owls, but a drive ending in a three-yard TD by Jahad Thomas and a safety put the game away in the end for Temple.  By virtue of the win over South Florida, the Temple Owls lead the division based on head to head competition.  Five weeks of regular season play remain to determine who will play in the AAC title game at a site of one of the division champs. has a great interest in the outcomes for both divisions.

USF QB Quinton flowers tries to race around the Temple flnak for a gain in the first period.

USF QB Quinton flowers tries to race around the Temple Owls flank for a gain in the first period.

     The teams played nip and tuck during the first half as the lead changed five times until the Owls extended their 17-13 lead on Adam Boumheri’s 35-yard FG with five seconds remaining in the first half.  It was a very interesting game already by the end of the first half with the score at 20-13 in favor of the Temple Owls .

The marching Owls always seem to have good time when they at performing at Owl football games. We like them.

The marching Temple Owls always seem to have good time when they perform at halftime. We like them. Definitely one of our favorites.

     USF opened the scoring in the third period with Emilio Nadelman’s 42-yard FG to narrow the margin, 20-16.  The Bulls forced a punt and took over from their 16-yard line. They drove the length of the field and QB Quinton Flowers (11 of 19 passes, 187 yards, 2 TDs / 14 carries for 90 yards and one TD) ran a quarterback draw up the middle for the final three yards to retake a 23-20 lead for the Bulls. The Owls bounced back immediately finishing off a 78-yard drive with Armstead’s 42-yard burst down the right sideline.  They recaptured the lead, 27-23.  The Bulls’ next possession ended with their punt getting blocked and returned by Keith Kirkwood to the USF 20.  Two carries later by Jahad Thomas (Elizabeth, NJ: 16 carries for 56 yards and two TDs) at the nine, Temple enjoyed their largest lead of the evening, 34-23. 

Owl RB Jahad Thomas runs for 11 yards before his nine-yard touchdown run.

Owl RB Jahad Thomas runs for 11 yards before his nine-yard touchdown run.

    In the fourth, Boumheri added another FG from 41 to make the Temple lead even bigger.  However,  Malcolm Mack’s (13 carries for 67, one TD) 30-yard TD run capped a 75-yard drive to bring USF back to within one score.  The Bull defense shut down TU and forced a punt.  The USF offense stumbled backwards due to tackles for losses and a few penalties that backed them up with a third and 23 at their one-yard line.  QB Brett Kean filled in now for the injured Quinton Flowers at QB.  Safety Delvon Randall picked off his pass and returned it near the goal line.  A penalty against the Bulls for a foul after the play put the Owls on the USF three.  Thomas took it in on the first play for his second TD and increased to a 44-30 lead.  Starting back at the five because of another Bull penalty on the kick return, TU’s Romond DeLoatch sacked Kean in the end zone for a safety.

     As the clock waned during the Owls final possession, I enjoyed watching the Sun Dolls smile and cheer in the light rain that had begun to fall.  Then they regretfully started to pack all their props up. I could have stayed longer.  It was an enjoyable game to watch this evening in Philly as the Temple Owls gained first place in the AAC East.  We hope to see them win the East and Navy to win the West.  It will guarantee us a conference championship game to attend on December 3 within driving distance to either home site. Only six more weeks to go. One TU fan was heard to say on the way out that this had been the most fun he had had at an Owls’ game since last season when the Owls defeated Penn State in their home opener.  It was a fun and competitive game to watch throughout as the game was close.  It went back and forth until late in the game.

Even in the rain, they don't call them the USF cheerleaders the Sun Dolls for nothing!

Even in the rain, they don’t call them the USF cheerleaders the Sun Dolls for nothing!

     Speaking of Navy, the Bulls return to Tampa to face the 22nd ranked Mids at home next Friday night.  We watched the Mids (5-1, 4-0) defeat them in Annapolis last season, 29-17.  We look for Navy’s discipline in running the triple option to outscore the Bulls.   Temple (4-3, 1-3) hosts Cincinnati this Saturday.  I stayed in Philly that night looking forward to my drive to State College to see No. 2 Ohio State visit Penn State. Read on!

You can imagine the abuse that the Bull mascot, "Rocky", took from fans from Philadelphia. I just wasn't "Rocky, Rocky,Rocky!"

You can imagine the abuse that the Bull mascot, “Rocky”, took from fans from Philadelphia. It just wasn’t “Rocky, Rocky, Rocky!”

Ryquell Armstead (25) breaks away through the USF defense on a 72-yard TD jaunt.

Ryquell Armstead (25) breaks away through the USF defense on a 72-yard TD jaunt.

South Florida cheerleaders had to duck under the end zone TV cameras coming back before teh second half. at least teh cameras weren't in anybody's way like the aare at Notre Dame Stadium.

South Florida cheerleaders had to duck under the end zone TV cameras coming back before the second half. At least the cameras weren’t in anybody’s way like the one at Notre Dame Stadium last week.

Marlon Mack (5) on a short gain for the Bulls.

Marlon Mack (5) on a short gain for the Bulls.