A post-game laser show lit up the murky sky at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium last night after Navy's football team failed to find enough fuses to ignite its option offense.
Temple's defense harassed quarterback Brian Broadwater relentlessly, producing six sacks and numerous other yardage losses in the Owls' 17-6, season-opening victory before 28,335 rain-soaked spectators.
Navy simply never mounted any sort of sustained attack, scoring its only touchdown with 8:44 remaining in the game when Broadwater finally found a seam open and dashed from midfield to the end zone.
Until then, the Midshipmen (0-1) had trouble getting plays under way against Temple's quickness and eagerness. They had not penetrated the Owls' 35-yard line before Broadwater broke free.
"Going into the game we knew they had three or four [defensive] schemes that they might throw at us," said Broadwater. "They stayed with one scheme and we have seen that before. But we were just misfiring. We all have to be on the same page."
The Navy score was set up when Temple's Lester Trammer fumbled while sophomore Tanardo Sharps (Meade) was taking one of his rare breathers. Navy's Mike McGee recovered at the Owls' 43 and, three plays later, Broadwater scored.
That was far too little, too late for the Midshipmen, who finished with a mere 73 yards rushing and less than 22 minutes of possession time with an offense that must dominate the ball.
"We got our fannies whupped," said coach Charlie Weatherbie. "We didn't play well offensively. Way too many three-and-outs. We were our own worst enemy. We would make a big play and then have a penalty."
It was Temple's first win in a season opener on the road since 1996 at Eastern Michigan. Navy lost its fourth consecutive opener under Weatherbie.
"Most teams make their biggest improvement between their first and second games," said Weatherbie. "I believe this team will come back. One game doesn't make a season. We didn't block well. We may have to make some changes up front and on the perimeter."
Sharps' previous career-best rushing game was 100 yards against Boston College last season. He accumulated 180 yards on 31 carries in his return to Anne Arundel County.
And he virtually sealed the victory with a 64-yard touchdown scamper on the first play of the fourth quarter, giving the Owls a 17-0 lead.
The Midshipmen were rationed to less than 100 yards on the ground for the first time since Army limited them to 68 in 1994. And they had less than 22 minutes of possession time, a crucial factor for an option-oriented offense.
It was a disappointing performance by a team that led the nation in rushing last season for the first time ever. Temple now leads the overall series, 3-1.
"Broadwater is a great quarterback, so I was surprised at how well we pressured him tonight," said Temple coach Bobby Wallace. "We didn't stand there and let him throw the ball. That pressure was very important for us."
The Owls also received a boost from backup quarterback Mike Frost, who replaced Devin Scott after two series in a 0-0 game and directed his team to a touchdown and a field goal in the second quarter.
The two possessions covered 137 yards and culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Jason McKie and 24-yard field goal by Cap Poklemba (McDonogh).
Navy's all-senior offensive line was having loads of trouble containing the Owls' aggressive blitzes and defenses designed to shut down the running game before it got underway.
Navy punted five times in the first half and pentrated Temple's territory only once.
Frost (7-for-12, 86 yards) and Sharps were primarily responsible for Temple's 419 yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, the Midshipmen had only 148 yards and more than a third of that came on Broadwater's scoring run. In the first half, Navy had 23 total yards.
"Defense is the strength of our team," said Wallace, who now must prepare the Owls for Maryland. "Our secondary had to play a lot of man-to-man coverage. I have a lot of confidence in our defense. To only give up one touchdown is big."
Navy has now lost six of its past seven games at home.
Navy entered the game without a season-opening victory at home since 1990 and without the traditional march-in by the brigade, canceled because of inclement weather.
Next for Navy
Opponent: Georgia Tech
Site: Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field, Atlanta
When: Sept. 16, 3:30 p.m.
Yesterday: Played Central Florida.