On a warmish and humid (80 SW winds around 7 MPH) mid-September night, the Temple Owls (1-1, 0-0 AAC East) hosted the UMass Minutemen (0-3, Independent) for the last game before they dive into their AAC schedule.
Behind 9 sacks by the Defense and a steady night by Logan Marchi, the 22,911 Cherry and White clad fans saw their Owls beat UMass 29-21
Except for Temple’s second play from scrimmage, a Ryquell Armstead 56 yd run to the UMass 15, the 1st qtr was all about the defenses as Temple had to settle for a FG after a 6 play, 65 yd, 2:17 drive ended with a 24 Yd FG by Austin Jones. There was no other scoring in the quarter.
The 2nd Qtr started not much better as each team’s offense went in fits and starts with missed and blocked FG’s keeping the game at 3-0 Temple
Then things got interesting as the Minutemen got the first TD of the game on a 10 yd pass by Andrew Ford to Nick Orekoya ending a 5 play, 64 yd, 2:20 drive with 2:29 left in the half to make it 7-3 Minutemen.
On the ensuing drive a gutsy call on 4th and 3 at the UMass 29, resulted in the Owls getting the 1st down on a 4 yd pass to Keith Kirkwood from Logan Marchi. The drive ended with a 30 Yd TD to Adonis Jennings from Marchi, 8 plays 73 yds, 1:19: 10-7 Owls with 1:04 until the break.
On the first play of the next drive Quincy Roche forced and recovered a fumble on his 3rd sack of the game to give Temple the ball on the 18. Kirkwood made a great catch over the defender to make it 16-7 Temple after a missed PAT, as the half came to an exciting end.
Temple opened the second half scoring on a 9 play, 53 yd, 3:30 drive that ended with a 52 Yrd FG by Aaron Boumerhi; 10:18 left in 3rd Qtr. The defense could not keep the momentum though, as on the ensuing drive, in which Temple D had 2 sacks, UMass scored a 20 yard TD on 9 plays, 66 yds 4:15. The lead for the Owls now was just 19-14, with 5:56 left in 3rd Pd.
Temple did answer with their own 10 play 44 yd, 3:56 possession, capped off by a 37 Yd FG by Jones to give Temple an 8 pt lead with 1:52 left.
The 3rd Pd ended with the Owls still up by 8, but the Minutemen were driving once again, which could have set up another barnburner like we had in 2015.
Fortunately for Temple, that 11 play 64 yrd 4:31 wraparound drive by UMass ended in their third missed FG, from 32 yds out this time. Somehow Temple was still up by 8, 12:14 left in regulation.
The Owls D was able to ultimately stifle the next Minutemen drive, forcing a turnover on downs at the Temple 28 with 8:39 left. They would go on to score on a Marchi to Isaiah Wright TD on a 10 play, 72 yd, 4:51 drive just at the Wright time, to go up 29-14, with only 3:48 left.
A garbage time TD by UMass made the final score 29-21.
Marchi was steady if not spectacular He wound up going 22 for 37, 248 yards and three TD’s, hitting 11 different receivers. In three games Marchi has yet to throw an interception. They also used FR Todd Centeio, who went two for two for 20 yds. Head Coach Geoff Collins said post game that they knew all along he would get in the game and there were special packages for the dual threat QB. We can expect to see more of him as the game dictates.
The leading receiver was Wright, 4 rec 69 yds, 1 TD, longest was 29 yds.
The leading rusher was not surprisingly Armstead on a season high of 91 net yds on 17 carries. Overall Temple had 119 rushing yds, on 34 attempts.
Boumerhi’s 52 yd FG was a career high, second week in a row he has done that. It was the longest since Brandon McManus hit a 53-yard field goal against Villanova on Sept. 3, 2010.
P Alex Starzyk was his usual solid self, and his 54 yard punt putting UMass on its 18-yard-line with 26 seconds left in regulation was perfect.
On Defense Quincy Roche had an amazing game. He had three sacks, and 4 TFL. On one play he had a sack, forced fumble and a recovery near the end of the 1st half. He also had a career high 3 solo tackles.
The Owls sacked Ford nine times.
Temple may have been a bit lucky that UMass missed all three FG attempts, and at times even with the nine sacks, they seemed to give up a big play soon after. The run game needs a lot of work as does the pass defense. I still see this team in the middle of the pack in the AAC, with at least 6 wins overall. Next week will be the real test they have been waiting for.
Temple Next Ups:
The Owls go on the road to start their AAC schedule at the #22 USF Bulls (3-0, 0-0 AAC East) favored to win the AAC East and overall. That game will be Thursday night on ESPN.