ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Junior backup quarterback Xavier Arline scored on a 23-yard touchdown run in overtime, while seldom-used sophomore cornerback Dashaun Peele picked off Temple quarterback E.J. Warner in the end zone to give Navy (3-5, 3-3 in the American Athletic Conference) a thrilling 27-20 overtime victory over Temple (2-6, 0-4) in front of 31,141 fans at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Arline, who entered the game with 3:07 left in the first quarter on what turned out to be a season-ending injury for starting quarterback Tai Lavatai, scored on Navy’s second play of overtime and ran virtually untouched until he got to the end zone to give Navy the lead. Arline finished the day with 54 yards rushing on 16 carries.
Peele, who had played in just two games before today, was forced into action due to injuries in the Navy secondary and made several big plays including his first-career sack, a pass breakup on Temple’s final drive of regulation, and another pass breakup on third down in overtime before sealing the win on the next play by picking off Warner in the end zone.
“I am proud of our kids, happy for our seniors,” said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. “It was a hard-fought win. Give Temple credit. Those guys battled. Tai (Lavatai) going down kicked us in the gut a little bit. When one of our guys has a season-ending injury, it impacts us. ‘X’ (Xavier Arline) came in and did some good things. Defense did some good things early on. Got some stops at the end. Happy for the win. It is hard to win.”
Navy, which had struggled all year in the first quarter, got off to a great start by jumping out to a 13-0 first quarter lead thanks to two Daniel Davies field goals and a 15-yard touchdown run by sophomore fullback Daba Fofana.
The fast start was mostly a credit to the Navy defense and special teams which completely shut down the Temple offense to start the game. Navy held Temple to -11 yards total offense in the first quarter, which included an interception by sophomore corner Elias Larry that set up the second Davies field goal. Temple also muffed a punt that was recovered by Mbiti Williams Jr. that set up the Fofana touchdown.
The game changed in Temple’s favor at the start of the third quarter and Navy leading 13-3. Sophomore kick returner Maquel Haywood let the opening kickoff bounce in play instead of catching it and instead of the ball bouncing in the end zone, it died at the one-yard line. Haywood picked it up and was quickly tackled at the five-yard line.
Three plays later, Temple’s Layton Jordan knocked down an Arline pitch and recovered it in the end zone for a Temple touchdown. It was Jordan’s third touchdown of the year and all of a sudden Navy’s lead was down to 3 at 13-10.
Navy would answer the Temple score with one of its own with 51 seconds left in the third quarter on a 16-yard touchdown run by Anton Hall Jr. to put the Mids up 20-10.
Temple, playing without head coach Stan Drayton who missed the game with a viral infection, would not go away quietly.
Warner led a quick six-play, 70-yard drive that was capped off by a 20-yard touchdown pass to Amad Anderson Jr. that cut the Navy lead to 3 at 20-17 with 9:45 left.
After both teams exchanged punts, Temple stopped Navy on a fourth-and-two from the Temple 31-yard line as Fofana was stopped for a one-yard gain turning the ball back over to the Owls with 2:31 left.
Temple moved the ball to the Navy 45 when, on third-and-10, Anderson made a spectacular one-handed catch over the middle and carried the ball down to the five-yard line.
The Navy defense, however, would hold, dropping Temple for a one-yard gain on first down and forcing two incompletions on second and third down. Camden Price would make the 22-yard field goal for the Owls to send the game into overtime, setting up Arline and Peele’s heroics.
Navy finished with 224 yards rushing and 0 yards passing. Fofana paced the Mids with 63 yards on the ground and 1 touchdown on 24 carries. It was his fourth-straight game of 20 carries or more, which is the first for a Navy fullback in the triple option era.
Sophomore linebacker Colin Ramos had a career-high 13 tackles for Navy, while senior striker John Marshall had a spectacular day recording 11 tackles, a sack, 2.5 tackles for a loss, 5 pass breakups and 3 quarterback hurries. The 5 pass breakups are the most by a Navy player since at least 2000 and tied for the second most in the FBS this year (Penn State’s Joey Porter had 6 vs. Purdue this year).
The Navy run defense, which entered play 13th in the country against the run giving up just 102.4 yards per game, held Temple to just 20 yards rushing on 20 carries. It is the third time this year that Navy has held an opponent to under 30 yards on the ground.
Warner completed 24 of his 48 pass attempts for 268 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception for Temple. Anderson finished with 8 catches for 114 yards and 1 touchdown. Yvandy Rigby had 16 tackles for the Owls, while Jordan Magee had 12 and D.J. Woodbury 10.
Navy, which was picked 10th in the American Athletic Conference, currently stands sixth with a 3-3 record. The Mids travel to Cincinnati (6-2, 3-1) on Saturday to take on the Bearcats in a 4 PM game on ESPNU. Temple plays host to USF next Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.