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AAC: Recruiting helping Navy's consistency

Navy Tulsa Football

Navy quarterback Zach Abey (9) escapes a tackle attempt by Tulsa cornerback Akayleb Evans on his way to a touchdown in the second quarter in Tulsa, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

There are 17 undefeated teams remaining in college football’s top division.

Navy is one of them at 4-0, but it has been somewhat of a quiet yet impressive start as the Midshipmen’s last three victories were each decided by 10 points or less. It hasn’t been dominant like some of the Mids’ teams of the past, but Navy and veteran coach Ken Niumatalolo are once again looking to be a lead contender for the AAC championship along with 18th-ranked South Florida and a few others.

“They have been able to recruit and develop and build depth that a lot of us haven’t got a chance to do yet,” said Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery, whose squad lost 31-21 to Navy on Saturday, during the American coaches teleconference Monday. “My hats off to them and with what they do schematically on both sides of the football. They put their guys in the right spots and play extremely hard and you have to defend it well.”

Navy has won at least eight games in each of the last five seasons. It went 11-2 in 2015 and 9-5 a season ago.

This is its third year in the AAC, which Niumatalolo said has been a boost to the consistency of his program.

“Joining the league has definitely helped us in recruiting, because it has allowed us to get into big markets,” he said. “From Orlando to Cincinnati and Houston and Dallas and also down in Tampa and south Florida, I just think from an overall exposure standpoint it has helped us in recruiting a lot. … It is hard to win games, so hopefully we can keep it going because it is hard to win.”

Temple thoughts

East Carolina’s game this Saturday in Greenville is against Temple, which was shut out in the first half in its last game against Houston, but then showed more promise after halftime.

The final score was a 20-13 win by the favored Cougars, dropping Temple (2-3) to 0-2 in the league prior to facing the Pirates (1-4, 1-1). The Owls made it 20-13 with a field goal with 4:21 left to play, but its final two offensive possessions ended in a turnover on downs and an interception to seal it for UH.

“Once we started hitting things late in the second quarter and into the second half, certain things started clicking offensively and we got into a rhythm,” Temple coach Geoff Collins said. “That’s the way it needs to be moving forward.”

Temple ranks 120th in the country in points per game (16.2). ECU is No. 129 in points allowed per game (50.6).

Night game

After hosting Temple at noon this week, it was announced Monday that the Pirates will return to primetime the following week at Central Florida.

The ECU-UCF game Oct. 14 will kick off at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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