November 14, 2020 –
The Temple Owls were short handed players taking only 45 scholarship athletes ready to play to Orlando. The starting quarterback this season, Anthony Russo, was not one of them. It was an inopportune time to get off to a bad start. And that is what happened when the Owls turned the ball over twice in their first two possessions. That set the stage as the UCF Knights win 38 – 13.
“The whole game boils down to the beginning,” said Temple Coach Rod Carey. “Two turnovers in the first two drives. We dug ourselves a hole we didn’t have the firepower to get out of.”
On the first play UCF linebacker Eriq Gillyard stole the ball from quarterback Re-al Mitchell returning the ball to the Temple 16 yard line. The Knights scored four pays later on a 12-yard touchdown run by running back Greg McCrae.
On the ensuing possession Mitchell threw a pass the Tatum Bethune, stepping in between three Owls players, and intercepted the errant throw. Three plays later Otis Anderson Jr. ran it in from 14 yards out and a 14 – 0 lead.
Temple punted next. UCF had the ball at their 35 yard line. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel hit wide receiver Marlon Williams for a 50-yard gain. Then at the 6:51 mark of the first quarter McCrae scored on a one-yard run.
“We definitely could have done better there, to stop them and get a field goal,” said Temple Defensive end Arnold Ebiketie who led the team with 9 tackles. “That wasn’t the case, and we have to push through that.”
Temple regained some of their footing stopping UCF four straight times. The first half ended with the Owls trailing the Knights 21 – 3.
Any hopes for a Temple comeback were squelched in the third quarter when UCF scored 17 unanswered points. Williams caught two touchdown passes from Dillon in that stretch from 23 and 21 yards from the goal line. Williams hauled in 4 passes for 102 yards. Wide receiver Jaylon Robinson had 113 of the 268 passing yards put up by Gabriel.
Temple got their most offense behind the running of Tayvon Ruley who gained 90 yards on the ground against a defense designed to stop the run.
“I knew it is this kind of game because UCF has a good defense,” said Ruley. “I learned they were going to play in the box. This was going to be a dogfight.”
On the ground the Owls gained 183 yards of their 290 total.
The Cherry and White got their only touchdown on a 5-yard run by Onasis Neely, his first, at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Temple falls to 1 – 5 in the American and overall. The Owls are beset by injuries and not having their full complement of players. It is tough, but the team is focused on that they need to do.
“It’s hard, but this is what we wanted, what we wished for,” said Temple safety Amir Tyler. “There are a lot of people learning new positions. We’ve just got to keep working.”
Next on the schedule is a home game against ECU. Coach Carey sees their will is there, they just need to play better in spots.
“We’re not executing when we’re fighting as much as we need to execute,” Carey said. “After the start I felt like we settled into things. The fight has always been there. We need to get the execution done.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian