November 21, 2020 –
The Temple Owls had more than one opponent in their game again st the East Carolina University Pirates. There were the Pirates themselves. Incredibly, just prior to the game five players were placed on the COVID protocol list. There were also injuries and a suspension. The end result was a 28 – 3 loss to ECU at the Linc in a game that quite possibly should not have been played.
“I didn’t think we were going to play, then got told we were going to play,” said Temple Coach Rod Carey. “We had five guys an hour before the game going on the COVID protocol. I didn’t know what to expect. We’ve used all the protocols and during the times and we had never discussed this event. Everybody did a good job of putting it together and communicating. And then I was quite frankly shocked at the result.”
At 11 AM. A player showed symptoms, then four other defensive players were then placed on the inactive list due to COVID protocol as part of contact tracing. Most most were starters.
“I became aware of it at 11:15 that we could possibly have a positive case,” Carey said. “We tested yesterday as part of our protocol, then this popped up because the symptoms popped up. We went and had him do a rapid test and he came back positive. They used the contact tracing we’ve used inside our program and got to four others just before the game.”
The kickoff was delayed until 12:50. Carey explained that they did not want to take the field until they got the test back.
Earlier, true freshman Matt Duncan who was expected to start at quarterback, but was suspended indefinitely due to violation of team rules. Walk-on freshman Kamal Gray got the starting nod. He found out at 8:45in the morning.
Five players who saw action last week were on the injured list and did not play.
Enduring all of that the Owls had to play the game. Defensively, Temple had to play without starters Christian Braswell, Arnold Ebiketie, and George Reid, and back ups Nate Wyatt and Kimere Brown as part of the protocol. Injury cost the Cherry and White the services of starters Linwood Crump and Amir Tyler. It would be a challenge for any defense to be without so many players and so close the kickoff. Or not knowing if they were going to play. Defensive end Daniel Archibong described it in one word.
“Chaotic,” said Archibong. “No one is going to make excuses for us. We still have to come out and perform. Just because you lose guys, and we had the possibility of getting cancelled, the mental battle was the one we should have won, but didn’t win.”
ECU made the best of big plays getting the victory. Quarterback Holton Ahlers threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Johnson. Later, he found Tyler Snead for a 46-yard score. Ahlers got a one-yard plunge right after he had a 75-yard rushing play going out of bounds just short of the endzone. Snead returned a kickoff for a 95-yard score that followed a 28-yard field goal by Temple kicker Rory Bell.
On offense the Cherry and White had Gray running the offense. During the game wide receiver Branden Mack was under center as the backup. Temple was without wide receiver Jadan Blue due to injury. Gray went 10 for 21 for 95 yards and 2 interceptions. Mack tried to throw it twice, both fell incomplete.
It was another in a series of learning experiences for the 1 – 6 Owls who are scheduled to face league leading Cincinnati next week. For this team it Owls it has been a series of many different situations that would test the mettle of anyone.
“We learn how to fight through adversity,” said Mack. “That’s all we’ve ben doing this season. It started at the beginning of the season. It’s teaching everybody how to fight through adversity.
Written By: Glenn Papazian