7:30 PM ET, August 31, 2007
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
PHILADELPHIA -- Navy has the kind of recent record in Philadelphia any visiting NFC East team would envy: Come play here once a year and win.
Adam Ballard ran for a pair of a touchdowns and Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada had a 44-yard TD run, leading the Midshipmen to a 30-19 victory over Temple on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.
Navy feels right at home at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles. The Midshipmen have won all four games over service-academy rival Army played at the Linc. With the Army-Navy game moved to Baltimore this season, the Middies held off the Owls to stretch that unbeaten streak at the Linc to five games.
"It's a great place to play," Kaheaku-Enhada said. "Philadelphia's a great city and they've been good to us."
Ballard might have had a different opinion after his last trip here. He ran for 792 yards last season, but broke his right leg in the first quarter of Navy's 26-14 win in the regular-season finale against Army and missed its bowl game. He returned for spring practice and showed against the Owls that he hasn't lost a step.
"I think he's healthy," coach Paul Johnson said. "I don't think it was one of his better games. He was probably little rusty."
The Midshipmen, who love to run under Johnson, surprised the Owls on the third play of their first drive when Kaheaku-Enhada connected over the middle on a 37-yard play to Shun White. It was the only completed pass on an 11-play drive that ended on Ballard's 1-yard TD.
Kaheaku-Enhada completed a 20-yard pass on the first play of the second drive and ran 44 yards for a touchdown on the next one to put Navy ahead 14-0.
White rushed for 122 yards and Kaheaku-Enhada for 102.
Anyone who's followed Temple through 17 years of futility -- only four wins combined the last four seasons -- has seen those early scores turn into a lopsided rout countless times.
Not this time. The Owls, who lost to Navy 42-6 last season, kept this one close and turned it into a rare competitive game. Adam DiMichele's 22-yard TD pass to Matt Balasavage with 4:06 left made it 27-19. The extra point was blocked, and Navy sealed the win on Matt Harmon's 43-yard field goal with 1:07 left.
"Hopefully we'll grow," Johnson said after 100th victory as a college coach. "Our football team right now is not close to where we were a year ago. We've got a lot of growing to do."
So do the Owls. Finally, they may be moving in the right direction.
Second-year coach Al Golden has infused some needed optimism into Temple's woeful program, and had the top-rated recruiting class in the Mid-American Conference each of the past two years. Nearly 30,00 enthusiastic fans showed up on a brisk Friday night, and one of the parking lots was stuffed with tailgaters, something normally reserved for Eagles games. It was the largest crowd ever for a Temple game at the Linc.
Another surprise: the Owls didn't fold.
Navy's Zerbin Singleton fumbled the ball on a hard hit and John Haley was there to recover the ball and run 25 yards down to the 12. After a loss on a rushing play, DiMichele threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Daryl Robinson -- considered one of Temple's top recruits in recent memory -- that made it 14-10 in the second. DiMichele was 21-for-29 for 199 yards passing.
These are still the Owls, though, and three offensive penalties in the half wiped out three first downs and nearly 65 yards. Out of timeouts, they failed to challenge a Navy complete pass that replays clearly showed the ball hitting the grass first. Ballard took advantage and ended the drive with a 5-yard score.
"We've obviously 25 points better than we were a year ago against Navy," Golden said. "We're still young. Those guys have to grow up fast. I can't tell you how disappointed I am that we didn't win."
Harmon's 23-yard field goal as time expired gave Navy a 24-10 lead. He kicked a 30-yarder in the fourth.
Jake Brownell kicked two field goals for the Owls, his second making it 24-13 in the third.
"Our team definitely need a game like this that is close and tough," Kaheaku-Enhada said.