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SportsCollege SportsCollege Football

Mids soldier on after setback

FootballOhio State BuckeyesTemple OwlsCollege SportsVanderbilt CommodoresSoutheastern ConferencePenn State Nittany Lions

As the Navy football team ran wind sprints at the end of Monday's practice, head coach Ken Niumatalolo marched back-and-forth bellowing at the players.

"Gotta go to work. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. It is hard to win," Niumatalolo barked in a loud, commanding voice.

Navy spent eight months to preparing to play a powerhouse opponent in Ohio State. Now the Midshipmen have five days to get ready for a road game against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field.

Niumatalolo's message on Monday was that Navy must immediately forget about Saturday's disappointing 34-17 loss to fifth-ranked Ohio State and put all its focus on Temple, which opened with an impressive 37-7 rout of host Vanderbilt.

"It's human nature that you're still going to be down. The one remedy is to come out, work hard and press forward," Niumatalolo said. "It's hard, but you have to move on. Whether we had won or lost, we had to put it in the rearview mirror."

Navy has not lost often during its current 11-year run of success, and has shown a propensity to rebound from losses. The Midshipmen have dropped back-to-back games just six times since 2003. The only time the Mids have lost more than two in a row came in 2011 when it suffered a six-game skid.

"Nobody likes to lose. We don't like that feeling," Niumatalolo said. "Our guys recognize that we're playing a team that got after Vanderbilt at its place. If we have any residual hangover or mourning so to speak, it's going to be another long game."

Niumatalolo talked after Saturday's game about how much Navy put into trying to upset Ohio State. Knowing they were playing a Buckeyes squad with the nation's longest regular season winning streak at M&T Bank Stadium and before a national television audience motivated the Midshipmen the entire offseason.

"We have to put aside what happened on Saturday and just move on," starting fullback and offensive team captain Noah Copeland said. "That was a tough loss. It stinks because we invested so much. We have to move forward and we have to beat Temple."

Niumatalolo thinks the intense preparation for Ohio State, which involved so much time, energy and effort, was not just a one-game deal and will pay off down the road.

"We got ready for a marathon. We weren't getting ready for a 5K," he said. "It forced our entire team and everyone involved with our program to raise their level, and we just have to keep going up. You either get better or you get worse. I like where we are now, but we need to keep getting better."

Slotbacks Ryan Williams-Jenkins, Geoffrey Whiteside and Demond Brown led the way as Navy's offense rolled up 370 rushing yards against a strong Ohio State defense that features arguably the nation's best front four. On the down side, the Mids put the ball on the ground three times while running the triple-option – although an apparent fumble by slotback DeBrandon Sanders was ruled a forward pass.

"When is the last time a team ran for almost 400 yards against Ohio State? Yes, we have to take care of the football, but I don't to dwell too much on the negatives. We have to fix those things, but also build on the positive," Niumatalolo said when asked about the fumbles, one of which was returned for a 61-yard touchdown.

One of the positives is that Navy came out of a contest against a big, strong and aggressive Big Ten Conference club without any serious injuries. After getting whipped by Note Dame (50-10) and Penn State (34-7) in consecutive games to start the 2012 campaign, Navy was battered and bruised for a few weeks afterward.

"It was a physical game on both sides of the ball. I thought we held up pretty good against the run on defense and ran the ball well on offense. I was pleased with the way our guys played physically," Niumatalolo said.

Temple compiled a 2-10 record in 2013 under first-year coach Matt Rhule, but is clearly improved. Sophomore quarterback P.J. Walker threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Owls took advantage of seven turnovers by the Commodores last Thursday night. Sophomore defensive lineman Averee Robinson forced two of four fumbles while the visitors also came up with three interceptions.

Navy played pretty solid defense against Ohio State, which had just 13 points with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter. However, an 80-yard scoring strike from quarterback J.T. Barrett to wide receiver Devin Smith turned the tide as the Buckeyes put up 21 points in the span of 17 minutes to pull away.

"There are a lot of things we need to correct and we've got to get better in a hurry because we're facing a very, very potent offense that can score a lot of points in a hurry," Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said of Temple. "They went into SEC country and blew Vanderbilt out. They've got a lot of weapons, they've got a lot of speed and they've got a lot of size up front."

NAVY (0-1) AT TEMPLE (0-1)

Saturday, 1 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia

TV: ESPN2. RADIO: 1430-AM

LINE: Temple by 4

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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FootballOhio State BuckeyesTemple OwlsCollege SportsVanderbilt CommodoresSoutheastern ConferencePenn State Nittany Lions
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