WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Thrust into the spotlight for the first time, sophomore quarterback Kelvin Hopkins keyed Army to a most improbable victory.
Trailing by seven points against Temple with time winding down in the fourth quarter, Hopkins guided the Black Knights on a 14-play, 79-yard scoring drive in the final 91 seconds of regulation. He completed five passes for 67 yards, hitting Jermaine Adams in the left corner of the end zone with a perfectly thrown 16-yard strike with one second left in regulation, and Blake Wilson kicked a 29-yard field goal in the first overtime to give Army a dramatic 31-28 victory on Saturday.
To put that in perspective, the Black Knights entered the game ranked as the worst passing team in the nation, averaging 17.9 yards per game, and Hopkins was 1 for 6 for nine yards and one interception before Saturday’s kickoff.
“It was a great feeling to show that,” Hopkins said. “It’s something we practice and, contrary to popular belief, it is something we work hard at.”
Army safety Max Regan’s stop of Ryquell Armstead for no gain on a third-and-6 play forced the Owls to try to tie the game with a field goal and force a second overtime. But Temple kicker Aaron Boumerhi missed left from 27 yards and collapsed to the turf on his back, lying in disbelief at the end of a torturous day.
Boumerhi had a 32-yard field goal attempt bounce off the right upright in the third quarter, easily made a 51-yarder in the fourth that was nullified by a delay of game penalty, and had successfully made the kick that would have forced a second overtime, but Army coach Jeff Monken called a timeout before the snap.
“It’s disappointing,” first-year Temple coach Geoff Collins said. “He (Hopkins) got in a zone, made some nice throws and kept the drive going. We just couldn’t get the score (in overtime).”
The miss sent the Black Knights (6-2) into a gleeful frenzy as they remained unbeaten in five games at Michie Stadium and became bowl-eligible.
“For our team it’s an accomplishment,” said Monken, with Armed Forces Bowl executive director Brant Ringler among those in attendance. “For everybody that plays football at this level, getting into a bowl game is a measure of success. But our goal isn’t to get into a bowl game. Our goal is to go to a bowl game and win it.”
After the game, the Black Knights accepted a bid to the Armed Forces Bowl.
It was the last nonconference game of the year for Temple (3-5), which has lost four of five.
Armstead rushed for 151 yards on 18 carries and scored twice in the fourth quarter for Temple. His 21 yard-run around the left side with 1:38 left seemed to doom the Black Knights.
Temple quarterback Logan Marchi, who had two straight 300-yard games, did not play. Owls officials said he was hurt in last week’s game against UConn but was available to play. Redshirt junior Frank Nutile, the only other player on the roster with game experience, got the nod and rose to the occasion in his first college start, completing 20 of 29 passes for 290 yards with zero turnovers and throwing a 37-yard touchdown to Adonis Jennings late in the second quarter that forged a 14-14 tie at halftime.
The Temple defense held Army to 135 yards on 27 carries in the first half as the nation’s second-leading rushing team found few openings and the Black Knights managed just 29 yards on 10 carries in two three-and-outs in the third. Army entered the game averaging 378.4 yards a game and finished with 248 on 50 carries.
“We were kind of ramming our heads into a wall,” Monken said. “We were getting 2 yards, 1 yard. It was tough.”
Darnell Woolfolk led the Black Knights with a career-high 132 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns, the last a 44-yarder with 5:03 left. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, the key to the ground game, gained just 49 yards on 13 carries.
Temple: The Owls might have a quarterback quandary. Although Marchi had two strong games throwing the ball, he’s also thrown eight interceptions. Nutile entered the game 6 of 14 for 80 yards passing with one pick.
Army: The Black Knights have won two games without completing a pass, but Bradshaw went 2 for 2 for 42 yards in the first half and looked steady in a role that’s rare in this triple option and Hopkins proved Army’s passing game can be a factor going forward.
Temple: The Owls have a bye before facing Navy in a night game on Thursday, Nov. 2.
Army: The Black Knights have a bye before traveling to play service academy rival Air Force on Nov. 4.