Temple University‘s Ryqull Armstead had the game of all games, as the sophomore scored two touchdowns and ran for 159 yards to help the Owls recover from an early pick-six to earn an 45-20, AAC win over Southern Methodist on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Armstead, who picked up the 159 yards on 15 carries, was overjoyed about the win after celebrating his first 100+ yard game while also picking up more yards in Saturday’s game than he did all season.
“This was the best game I ever played and it showed,” said Armstead, who is a graduate of Millville Senior High School in South Jersey, the same high school were Los Angeles Angels’ star Mike Trout graduated from. “(The 159 yards) is meaningful for me because I have been working so hard this offseason and it is showing in little outburst, but I haven’t been breaking big runs like I do in practice. To finally put it in the game is wonderful for me.”
The Owls move to 3-2 (1-0 AAC) while the Mustangs drop to 2-3 (0-1 AAC). This is also the first time that Temple had scored a touchdown on both sides of the ball since last year’s matchup with SMU where the Owls won 60-40.
It took the one interception by SMU’s Jordan Wyatt off Temple’s senior quarterback Phillip Walker to spark a fire under the Owls to score 35 straight points, before Jeremiah Gaines caught a pass from SMU’s Ben Hicks for a 13-yard touchdown to make the score 35-14 at halftime.
Austin Jones hit a 30-yard field goal for Temple in the third quarter to post the only points by either team before SMU opened the fourth with a 14-yard pass by Hicks to James Procher. Temle responded about a minute and a half later with Armstead’s second rushing touchdown of the game, this one for 37-yards.
Surprisingly enough, it was punter Alex Starzyk, who helped to start the rally for the Owls after a three-and-out second drive as the junior drove a kick into the back of an SMU player allowing redshirt senior, defensive end Hasson Reddick to cover the live ball.
Temple wide receiver Ventell Bryant had a big return after missing the past three games with a shoulder injury, catching a 42-yard pass for a touchdown in the first quarter. Bryant ended the game with 43 yards on two catches.
“This was my actual first deep ball in my career,” said Bryant. “It is something I have been working on, and I am glad it paid off.”
Jahad Thomas rushed for 80 yards and two scores on 16 carries to help the Owls to 244 yards on the ground, an average of 5.4 a carry.
On the down side, besides the pick Walker threw for a pick-six, he had one other that also lead to a touchdown. Walker has thrown seven interceptions this season, which is one fewer than he had in 14 games last season.
“The thing that kept us back today was myself,” said Walker, who completed 7 of 18 passes for 124 yards. “I played my worst football game since I have been out there, I have to get better and stop overthinking when I am out there and have to go out there and play better.”
It should be of a little comfort to Owls fans that SMU (2-3) entered the game with a nation-leading 10 interceptions.
Reddick had two sacks in the game and a forced fumble.
Next Ups: Temple (3-2, 1-0 AAC) continues conference play next Thursday when they travel to the Memphis Tigers (3-1, 0-0) who were handed its first loss on Saturday in Mississippi by Ole Miss (3-2), 48-28.
SMU: 7 7 0 6 -20
Temple: 21 14 3 7 -45
14:05 – SMU: Jordan Wyatt 35 yd interception (Josh Williams kick). 9:05 – Temple: Jahad Thomas 12 yd run (Austin Jones Kick). 7 plays, 42 yds. 7:50 – Temple: Ventell Braynt 42 yd pass from Phillip Walker (Austin Jones kick). 1 play, 42 yds. 0:57 – Temple: Ryquell Armstead 1 yd run (Austin Jones kick). 3 plays, 38 yds.
Second Quarter 12:37 – Temple: Jahad Thomas 15 run (Austin Jones kick). 5 plays, 70 yds. 11:17 – Temple: Romond Deloatch 8 yd fumble recovery (Austin Jones Kick) 5:30 – SMU: Jeremiah Gaines 13 yd pass from Ben Hicks (Josh Williams kick). 4 plays, 33 yds.
Third Quarter 9:17 – Temple: Austin Jones 30 yd field goal. 9 plays, 33 yards.
Fourth Quarter 11:19 – SMU: James Proche 14 yard pass from Ben Hicks (Josh Williams kick). 10 plays, 69 yards. 9:58 – Temple: Ryquell Armstead 37 yd run (Austin Jones Kick). 3 plays, 46 yds.
LT 71 BRIGGS, C.
LG 72 HYDER, Braylon
C 63 BROWN, Evan
RG 76 SAENA, Jerry
RT 64 WILDS, Bryce
TE 84 GAINES, J.
WR 3 PROCHE, James
WR 9W WALKER, Shelby
WR 16 SUTTON, C.
QB 8 HICKS, Ben
RB 6 WEST, BraedenDEFENSE
DE 34 PRUITT, Jarvis
DT 92 MINOR, Zelt
NT 98 GREEN, Deon
DE 99 LAWLER, Justin
WILL 44 MITCHELL, J.
MIKE 48 RHONE, Anthony
STAR 11 MITCHELL, Kyran
CB 15 WYATT, Jordan
SS 29 MILLINES, D.
FS 8 HICKS, Ben
CB 9 RICHARDSON, H.
Co-Editor for the Baseball section here at Pattison Ave. Die-heart Phillies & Eagles fan and always root for Sixers, Flyers & Union. Former writer for the South Jersey times covering all high school sports. Now writing for South Jersey Sports Digest covering cross country and track.