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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Football

State of the AAC: Navy remains unbeaten in conference play as top teams idle


UH safety Amaud Willis-Dalton (27) and cornerback Damarion Williams (6) surround an SMU receiver during an AAC battle in the 2019 season at TDECU Stadium. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

UH safety Amaud Willis-Dalton (27) and cornerback Damarion Williams (6) surround an SMU receiver during an AAC battle in the 2019 season at TDECU Stadium. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

With only six American Athletic Conference teams in play this weekend, a relatively quiet slate of games followed last week’s chaos. 

Here is how the AAC fared this past weekend:

Navy (2-2, 2-0 AAC) vs. Temple (0-1, 0-1):

Following a brutal 40-7 road loss to Air Force, the Midshipmen returned home to face the Temple Owls. 

After a relatively slow start to the game, the option offense proved to be too much for the Owls to handle.

Never trailing in the game, senior fullback Nelson Smith rushed for 120 yards on 20 attempts, giving the Midshipmen two crucial touchdowns. The passing game was, by design, almost non-existent with senior quarterback Dalen Morris completing both of his passes for 48 yards.

Temple, who opened up their season this weekend, found themselves down 28-17 to start the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Anthony Russo gave the Owls a solid performance through the air, completing 70 percent of his passes for 206 yards.

Scoring less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Russo’s two-point conversion that would’ve brought the Owls to a field goal deficit was negated by a penalty. 

Down by eight after an almost 10-minute Midshipmen drive ended in a field goal, the Owls scored with 1:02 remaining in the fourth, ultimately failing another two-point conversion. The Owls dropped a close one in their season opener, 31-29.

East Carolina (1-2, 1-1) vs. USF (1-3, 0-2):

After a winless start to the season, the East Carolina Pirates traveled to Florida to take on the South Florida Bulls. 

The game opened with a relatively even first quarter before the Pirates’ offensive attack, led by junior quarterback Holton Ahlers and freshman running back Rahjai Harris, ran away to give the Pirates a 31-17 halftime lead.

The balanced attack that contained both 222 passing yards for three touchdowns as well as 210 rushing yards for two touchdowns. The Pirates outscored the Bulls 13-7 in the second half.

For USF, their 306 yard passing attack was enough to set the Bulls up with scoring opportunities, but the lack of consistent offensive production continued against the Pirates.

With no passing touchdowns and less than 100 yards rushing on 34 attempts producing all three touchdowns, the offense was not enough to keep up with the Pirates.

Tulane (2-2, 0-2) vs. Houston (1-0, 1-0):

After having five games canceled, the Cougars were finally able to open up the season at home against the Green Wave. 

After opening up the game with a pick-six and a fumble leading to a scoop-and-score, the Cougars found themselves down 24-7 early in the second quarter.

Although the Cougars sustained three more turnovers throughout the game, the offense was able to gain momentum, supporting the tremendous defensive performance.

Junior quarterback Clayton Tune was able to bounce back from the early mistakes, finishing the night with 319 yards passing and three total touchdowns, one of which came on the ground.

The Cougars held the offense of the Green Wave to less than 250 yards in total, with 141 of those coming through freshman quarterback Michael Pratt’s passing.

After a few key turnovers left the Green Wave with easy scoring opportunities, they were outscored 42-7 as their offense was unable to muster up many long drives on their own.

The overall dominant performance in the second half from the Cougars led to them receiving five votes in this week’s AP poll. The Cougars look to upset the 14th ranked BYU Cougars this Friday at home.

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