In what the Philadelphia Inquirer titled a “Satement Game” both the Temple Owls (1-1, 0-0 AAC) and the Penn State Nittany Lions (1-1, 0-0, Big 10) had something to prove before delving into conference play the next two weeks. Read more about that in my preview here.
Penn State made the bigger statement, scoring 14 points in the 1st qtr, and though it appeared close a few times, they never lost the lead in a 34-27 win over the Temple Owls.
This was not a “Spaulding Guide” game as it was filled with penalties, special teams miscues, missed tackles, and as many short drives as long ones for both teams.
Penn State got a great start on a good return and a personal foul just inside Temple territory, but the Owls D held them after only one 1st down. PSU did pin Temple down at the 1 on the punt, and Temple went nowhere. On the second play of the ensuing possession, the Nitts scored first on a Trace McSorley pass to Chris Godwin for 52 yds. 2, Plays, 55 Yds, 0:42 TOP.
Temple bounced right back with their own two play drive. First a 67 yd toss by SR QB Phillip Walker to redshirt SR TE Romond Deloatch, and SR RB Jahad Thomas, in his first game of the season, did the rest for an 8 yd TD run. 2 Plays, 75 yds, 0:41 with still 8:54 left in the 1st qtr.
Temple’s D could not keep up with Penn States offense early, as they came right back on a more leisurely 13 play 69 yd, 5:57 drive, culminating in an Andre Robinson 3 yd TD run.
With 7:15 left until the break, McSorley ran it in from 2 yds out for his first career rushing TD to make it 21-7. 9, plays, 53 yds, 3:14.
Temple salvaged three points on a very good 0:34 drive, going 52 yds on 6 plays, to bring the 1st half to a close, with the score 21-10 in favor of Penn State.
Penn State would get those three points back on their 1st possession of the 3rd qtr on a 6 play, 48 yd, 3:50 drive, featuring a leaping grab in traffic by TE Mike Gesicki, for 52 yds.
Temple converted on a perfect opportunity to get back into this game after a SO DB Delvon Randall INT and return of 17 yds, gave them the ball on the PSU 9. 4 Plays and 2:09 later Walker went airborne over the goal line on 4th and 1. This made the score 17-24 with 1:56 left in the 3rd pd. Penn State followed with a long drive (7 plays, 71 yds, 4:05) but the Owls defense stiffened to only give up three points as the Nittany Lions lead went back up to 10 with 12:45 left in regulation.
After Temple failed to do anything on the ensuing possesion, a patented running bouncing punt by Jr P Alex Starzyk forced PSU into a turnover, which Temple recovered by Randall on the 1 with 9:54 to go in the 4th qtr. Three plays later Thomas got his 2nd TD of the game, this time from 2 yds out. Yet another short drive in this game would go down in the books as 3 plays, 1 yd, 1:44, still 8:10 left.
The momentum for Temple was short-lived as on the second play of the next drive Saquon Barkley finally got onto the score sheet as he broke through the Temple line and went almost untouched, save a missed tackle or two, 55 yds to the end zone making this a two score contest once again, 34-24.
Jr K Austin Jones got his second FG of the game from 45 yds out, after a 12 play, 48 yds, 5:10 drive, to get it back to one score, but PSU easily recovered the on-sides kick with only 2:09 to go, and the Owls only having one time out left.
Temple did get the ball back with only 0:37 left at their own 15. Walker would then be picked off on the second play and that ended any chance for another Temple upset.
Stat Lines: Phillip Walker went 25/34, 286 yds, 8.4 yds per catch, 0 TDs, 1 Int which came during the last ditch scoring attempt. The leading receiver in yardage was Deloatch with the one 67 yard catch. Reception wise it was Jahad Thomas who had 6 catches for 48 yds, 8 YPC. He was also the leading rusher in his inaugural game of the season with 14 rushes for 52 yards, 3.7 yds per rush, and a long of 15 yds, 2 TDs. With Walker’s -13 yds rushing thrown in, Temple’s net rushing was a paltry 38 yds, 1.4 YPC. Temple only went 3 for 13 on 3rd downs. This was the 25th straight win by PSU at home, 73 years without a win at State College for the Owls.
Not So Special Teams: Temple had poor field position most of the 1st half, largely because of poor special teams play. In the 1st qtr alone they gave up three good returns. two on kickoffs. The punt return was due to a bad tackle at the initial reception point, not the reliably good punting by future NFL’er Alex Starzyk – see above for his big punt in the 4th qtr. Even with the one early turnover they had, which happened when immediately after Penn State made a 4th and 3 at the Temple 28, they fumbled the ball back to the Owls at the 12, they were in a big hole to start a series. This allowed the patchwork Penn State defense – they were missing 3 starters in the LB corps – to keep the Owls bottled up, except for the one big play early and the final drive of the half. They would continue to give up good returns all game. Temple as a team had 13 penalties for 118 yards. Many of them at key points in the game. It is very difficult to beat a decent team giving up that much yardage.
Next Ups: Temple returns home for one more game before starting it’s AAC schedule, against the UNC Charlotte 49ers (1-2, 0-0, CUSA) who play Eastern Michigan later, on Saturday 09/24 at noon. It will be Temple’s Homecoming game.
*EDIT above conference for UNC Charlotte and their record after Saturday 09/17/16, 19-37 loss.