Gunner Kiel Pass intercepted by Alex Wells
Following their upset win over Penn State last week, Matt Ruhle‘s Temple Owls opened their American Athletic Conference schedule on the road against Eastern Division rivals, the Cincinnati Bearcats. Cincy was coming off a win of their own over FCS Alabama A&M 52-10. This was be the 18th match-up of these two, led by the Owls at 9-7-1, w/ the Bearcats eking out a 14-6 win last season on a Senior day Thanksgiving w/e @ nearly freezing Lincoln Financial Field.
After trading possessions, Temple got the 1st break on a fumble forced by Jarred Alwan and recovered by Will Hayes @ the 8:44 mark of the 1st period on the Cincy 45, but the Bearcats D held them to a 40 Yd FG by Austin Jones to start the scoring.
On the ensuing drive the Owls D bent but did not break for an SDI helped out by a chop block penalty that negated a long 1st down pass by Cincinnati QB, Gunner Kiel, and then a missed 53 yd FG by Andrew Gantz. The next drive though, after a 3 and out by Temple, Kiel drove the Bearcats down the field, starting @ their 25, on a nice 13 play mix of run and pass, which set up a much easier 27 yd try for Gantz to tie the game.
Owls QB P. J. Walker was not sharp early and he was being pressured by the stout Cincy defense and his receivers also seemed to be well covered. At the same time the Bearcats O-line started to take over the game, giving Kiel all the time he needed to find open men downfield…but once again Temple found a way to hold them to another FG, basically a PAT, a drive of 14 plays, that started @ the 26. W/ that score @ 6:11 left ’til 1/2 time the Bearcats took their 1st lead of the game, 6-3.
But finally, using all but 32 seconds left in the 1st half, having burnt all their TO’s, Walker hit a wide open Michael Felton in the end zone capping off a 10 play 74 yard, 5:39 drive which also featured a nifty catch and run by Jahad Thomas to get them to the 2.
So they went into the half @ stunned Nippert Stadium, w/ the Temple Owls up 10 – 6.
Temple got the ball to start the 2nd half, after deferring the won toss, and that strategy paid off big time as Thomas made the most of it, by returning the KO 100 Yds. 17-6 Temple.
But just like that, on a blown coverage by DB Sean Chandler the 2nd play of the drive, Kiel hit Mekale McKay for an 88 yd TD, but them missed the 2 point conversion to bring the score back to 17 – 12, Owls.
Not to be outdone, on their 2nd play of the next drive, Jahad Thomas scampered 56 yards for a TD, to increase the lead once again to 12, 24-12….and then some more trickeration by Matt Ruhle (they ran a perfect reverse/ WR pass last week) catching the Bearcats special teams woolgathering, for a successful on-sides kick. That possession went only backwards on a series of penalties, but on the 2nd play of the next Cincy series Kiel was picked off by LB Tyler Matakevich at the Cincy 27. This would be a recurring theme in this game. On this drive, after some more nice runs by Thomas, P. J. Walker hit red-shirt Senior Robby Anderson for a TD on the 6th play, for a seemingly more comfortable lead of 31-12, w/ 3:50 left in the 3rd period.
Kiel was picked off once again, this time by DB Alex Wells @ their own 36 returning it to the Bearcats 43. The drive fizzled on the 1st sack of the day of Walker as another dominant 3rd qtr. came to an end still 31-12. Jones kicked the 28 yd FG to start the 4th to make it 34-12.
Cincinnati got one of those TD’s back w/ a too quick 8 play 71 yd drive – now 34-19 Temple.
After a what seemed like a too conservative too early 3 and out by Temple, it looked like Cincy would drive quickly again for a score, but Kiel was intercepted by red-shirt Senior DB Will Hayes @ their own 3 and brought it back 57 yds.
Cincinnati did get it back to a one score game (w a 2 pt conversion) on the next drive, but the on-sides kick was smothered by Matakevich w/ 2:49 left… but on the 2nd play of the drive Thomas made his 1st bad play of the night losing the ball w/ Cincy taking over on the 29 making for some very anxious final moments…but w/ a lucky 13 seconds left to go, last week’s AAC Defensive player of the week, Tyler Matakavich (2) picks Kiel off again in the end zone.
Final Heart Stopping Score Temple Owls 34 – Cincinnati Bearcats 26.
Offensively P. J. Walker went 13-21, 81 yds, 2 TD’s, Jahad Thomas 193 yds, 26 carries, 1 TD, 17 yds on 2 receptions.
Last week this Owls D did it w/10 sacks (only 1 this game), tonight they helped the cause w/4 ints.
This is Temple’s 1st 2- 0 start since 2011.
Next week the Owls play their 2nd road game in a row against the UMass Minutemen, who lost their season opener today @ the Colorado Buffaloes, 48-14. 9/19/15 @ 3:00.