October 17, 2020 –
The Temple Owls posted their first victory of the season with a come-from-behind 39 – 37 over the University of South Florida Bulls on virtual Homecoming Day at the Linc. The game was played in front of the players families.
The Owls took an early lead on the contest, but fell behind and needed a fourth quarter rally gave the Cherry and White their initial victory. Temple had the needed fight and resolve.
“I’m very happy with our guys effort,” said Temple Coach Rod Carey. “They hung in there. They don’t flinch. We were down at halftime, down after a blocked field goal, all of those different things. They hung in there and found a way.”
The Owls trailed 31 – 26 in the fourth quarter. A punt pinned the Bulls deep in their own territory. Quarterback Jordan McCloud and running back Kelly Joiner had a mix-up on the handoff and the ball came loose. Temple defensive end Arnold Ebiketie got the ball on a bounce and ran 11-yards for the go-ahead touchdown and a 32 – 31 lead with 9:52 on the clock.
“The quarterback was trying to figure out what I was going to do,” Ebiketie said. “He tried to pull the ball at the last second, but it was too late. That’s why the confusion happened, and he lost the ball at that point.”
The ensuing possession by USF was a three-and-out. The suddenly uplifted Owls responded with a 10-play, 81-yard drive covering 3:47 capped when quarterback Anthony Russo found Randle Jones with a 13-yard scoring strike. Temple was in front 39 – 31 with under four and a half minutes to play.
“That was huge for us,” said Russo. “Before that there was a lot of back and forth. For us to get that and get some mojo on our side was big. Defense was feeding off the offense when we got some scores. The offense was feeding off the defense when they got stops and that scoop and score. We did a great job of feeding off each other’s energy. That’s what you have to do when there are not a lot of people in the stands, you have to get the energy off the sidelines.”
The Bulls went on a 72-yard drive and got in proximity on a 1-yard run by Leonard Parker with 1:03 remaining. USF went for a tying two-point conversion but Noah Johnson was tackled by safety Amir Tyler preserving the lead.
“We knew he (Noah Johnson) was going to be the running quarterback,” said Tyler. “Once we saw him in there we knew it was a draw or reverse or trick play. I was watching him and everybody else did too.”
The Owls recovered the on-side kick and ran out the clock.
For the game Ebiketie 6 tackles, 5 solo, a sack, and 3.5 tackles for a loss. Russo threw for four touchdowns. He completed 30 of 42 passes for 270 yards and had 2 interceptions. Jadan Blue caught 9 of those passes for 60 yards and two scores. Jones hauled in 8 catches for 81 yards. Re’mahn Davis ran for 83 yards.
Johnny Ford led the Bulls with 206 all-purpose yards, 68 rushing, 54 receiving, and 84 return yards. Quarterback Jordan McCloud threw for 182 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The 1 – 1 Owls travel to Memphis next weekend to take on the Tigers of Memphis.
Written By: Glenn Papazian