PHILADELPHIA, PA. 8/31/2019 – Camp is over, injures healed, jobs have been won. It is time to play football. For the Temple Owls new coach Rod Carey was treated with a 56 – 12 win over the Bucknell Bison at the Linc. It is a rivalry game of sorts as the teams used to play for The Old Shoe. Although that tradition no longer exists ending in 1970, the last time they played each other. That was then. Both coaches Carey and Dave Cecchini are first year coaches trying to build new traditions. Carey had a great start as the Temple coach, and the Cherry and White won with a lot of contributors.
“You never underestimate winning in any way, shape of form,” said Temple Coach Rod Carey. “Today, we went out and won. Whether it was what we were supposed to do, winning is hard. These guys were dialed in from the start.”
Owls quarterback Anthony Russo made his first collegiate start. He responded with a career-high tying 4 touchdown passes completing 32 of 41 for 409 yards. The offense started quickly scoring on their first four possessions as younger, less experienced players contributed.
“To come out here on Saturday and do this on a game day, that’s big for this offense and builds our confidence,” said Russo.
Russo found wide receiver Jaden Blue for an 8-yard score at the 11:41 mark, his first career receiving touchdown. The next two times Temple had the ball running back Jager Gardner crossed the goal line on runs of 11-yards and 1 yard, and the initial multi-touchdown game for Gardner. Late in the second quarter running back Re’Mahn Davis took a swing pass from Russo and took it 51-yards for a score at the 1:02 mark, his first career touchdown, one of two for the game. Temple had a 35 – 9 lead at halftime.
“There were a lot of guys out there playing a college football game while it was in question,” Carey said. “It’s one thing for coaches to want them to do something, teaching them to do something, but they have to take hold of it and execute. I thought they did a great job.”
On the defensive side of the ball the Owls defense held the Bison without a first down until late in the first quarter. The Bucknell defense got their first touchdown when corner back Gavin Pringle intercepted a Russo pass and returned it 36-yards to the endzone. On the following possession the Bison kicker Ethan Torres was good on a 37-yard field goal that was set up by a 42-yard pass reception by Brandon Sanders, who had 9 catches for 115 yards, from quarterback John Chiarolanzio to the Owls 20 yardline. Otherwise the defense did not give up a touchdown.
For the first half Temple gained 427 yards on offense compared to 66 for Bucknell. For the game the Cherry and White put up 695 yards of offense and gave up 211.
Russo threw the ball to 7 different receivers. Isaiah Wright hauled in 10 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Mack caught 9 passes for 130 yards. Davis accounted for 138 yards of total offense.
Russo missed much of camp due to injury, so the fast start gave the quarterback a lift.
“That’s a testament to play calling, and the coaches putting us in position to make plays and get the ball down the field,” Russo said. “We had a great game plan. The offensive line up front was tremendous. That was our main goal off season and in this game was to come out and start fast.”
Todd Cenetio posted a touchdown pass caught by wide receiver Travon Williams who ran 89 yards untouched for the score.
The Cherry and White gets a week off before hosting Maryland. One game does not a tradition make, but it was quite a start. It was the largest margin of victory in an opener since a 47 – 3 win at Rhode Island in 1969, and the biggest spread in a home curtain lifter in 1981 defeating William & Mary 47 – 3.
Written By: Glenn Papazian