PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/17/2018 – One month ago the Temple Owls began a stretch where they would play four consecutive games against teams that were unbeaten in the American. That stretch ended with the contest against the University of South Florida Bulls. It was quite a run for Temple starting with the overtime win against Cincinnati. In the past two weeks the offense has come alive scoring over 40 points in a loss at nationally ranked UCF followed by a 59 – 49 win at Houston.
For the Bulls it was a bit of the opposite who entered the game with a three-game losing streak. The positive trend continues for the Owls as they overcame a 17 – 0 halftime deficit to win 27 – 17 at the Linc.
“The first half wasn’t us,” said Temple Coach Geoff Collins. “We came out trying to figure out what kind of game it was going to be. That’s not our brand of football. We strike first and play with relentless effort, and that’s what we did in the second half.”
The offense could not get moving in the first half, a departure from the past two games. However, the defense and special teams rose to the occasion with two scores and five turnovers that contributed to the Senior Day victory.
That showed with the second half kickoff when Tempe tried an onside kick. It did not succeed, but set a tone.
The Owls got to within 17 – 13 in the fourth quarter behind two Will Mobley field goals. After the second score, USF was forced to punt. It set up the turning point of the game. Wide Receiver Isaiah Wright fielded the punt and returned it 73-yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 10:05 to play.
“I caught the ball and went to the right, then got outside to the left,” said Wright about the return. “A lot of key blocks were made.”
The Cherry and White ended the scoring with a sack by Dana Levine and a fumble recovery in the endzone by linebacker Chapelle Russell for a score. It was the 11th non-offensive touchdown of the season for the Owls, and is something they have done in the last 8 games.
“We gain so much momentum from our special teams,” said quarterback Anthony Russo. “Being able to get that energy from that and the defense are game changers. When they make a big play it swings the momentum.”
Running back Ryquell Armstead ran for 64 yards and a touchdown. He surpassed the 1,000 yard plateau in the contest becoming the 11th player in program history to achieve the mark.
Wide Receiver Ventell Bryant caught 4 passes for 76 yards. In the third quarter on a 21-yard catch he became the all-time leader in career receptions with 167.
The Bulls gained 174 yards on the ground led by Jordan Cronkrite who gained 83 yards on 17 carries and he crossed the goal line twice.
Temple improves to 7 – 4 on the season and is 6 – 1 in conference, a game behind the UCF Knights in the American Eastern Division. USF drops to 7 – 4, 3 – 4 in the American. The Owls finish the regular season next week at Connecticut. With this win the seniors became to all-time winningest class in program history.
“It’s very important and humbling being a part of this for four years,” Armstead said. “It feels good to go out on top.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian