PHILADELPHIA, PA. 10/14/2017 – The Temple Owls were a victim of slow start. Eventually, the offense got rolling, but could not overcome the deficit on Homecoming Day. The Connecticut Huskies leave the Linc with a 28 – 24 victory. It was the first American win of the season for UConn.
“I thought we had a slow start, went down at halftime, but moved the ball well in the second half,” said Temple Coach Geoff Collins. “You can’t come out and start slow and expect to win ball games.”
Down 21 – 7 the Owls got rolling, they pulled to within 21 – 14 halfway through the third quarter. Then came the dagger when Huskies defensive back Tyler Cole intercepted a pass and ran it back 34-yards for a touchdown doubling up the advantage.
The Temple defense continued to hold and the offense got a 10-yard touchdown run from Ryquell Armstead. Afterwards, the Owls had a fumble recovery off a sack that would have given them the ball inside the Huskies 5 yard line. The call was overturned.
On the ensuing possession Aaron Boumerhi kicked a 21-yard field goal cutting the gap to 28 – 24 with 11:14 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We came out and played Temple football,” said defensive back Delvon Randall who had an interception, the third straight game in which he picked off a pass.
“We talked it out and got our momentum back.”
After a Connecticut punt Temple drove the ball 24 yards from a touchdown. The Owls went for a first down on 4th and 7 instead of a field goal that potentially would have cut the gap to a single point. The pass from quarterback Logan Marchi to wide receiver Keith Kirkwood was incomplete turning the ball over on downs.
“We wanted to get the touchdown,” Collins said about nixing the field goal attempt. “If we didn’t get it, we had them backed up. We had a good call. We thought we would get the points, go up, but it didn’t happen.”
UConn put the game nearly out of reach when quarterback Bryant Shirreffs ran for 49-yards to the Owls 26.
The Cherry and White got the ball back with 55 seconds left. A fourth down, 42-yard pass into the endzone was broken up by Cole. When the ball hit the turf, the comeback was thwarted.
Temple was going against a team that came into this contest that gave up 46 points per game. The Cherry and White have been generating offense on the ground and relying on the defense over the past few games. Conventional wisdom said the Owls were primed to have a good day. As noted football analyst Lee Corso would say ‘not so fast my friend.’
On offense the Cherry and White seemed stymied early. Penalties played a huge role as the flagged 12 times for 117 yards.
On the stat sheet Temple out gained Connecticut 473 yards to 244, in the second half the advantage was 303 – 137. Marchi completed 33 of 54 attempts for 356 yards, a touchdown, and one costly interception. Running back David Hood had 29 rushing yards and a score. He also had a season and team high 8 receptions for 91 yards. Armstead had 31 yards and crossed the goal line. The touchdown to Isaiah Wright was one of his 6 catches for 50 yards. Kenny Yeboah snagged 4 balls for 73 yards.
“At halftime everybody came together and said we are going to compete,” said Yeboah. “They are not going to roll over. Let’s take our hits and compete.”
Defensively, the Owls forced two turnovers, a fumble recovery and an interception. Linebacker Chapelle Russell made a game and season-best high 12 tackles.
Temple falls to 3 – 4 on the season, 1 – 3 in the American. The Owls take the field next week at Army.
Written By: Glenn Papazian