The Temple Owls ( 5-3, 3-1, 2nd place AAC East) hosted the Cincinnati Bearcats (4-3, 1-3, 4th place), and needed a win to keep pace with the USF Bulls who outscored Navy 52–45 on Friday night.
In a game that was close going into the 4th qtr., Temple scored two TDs in the first three minutes of the final period, to pull away from Cincinnati, not allowing a score since halfway through the 2nd qtr, 34-13. With this win to go to 6-3, 4-1, Temple maintained their hold on 1st place in the AAC East and just as important became Bowl Eligible for the third season in a row. Post game Head Coach Matt Rhule when asked called it a “Credit to our players, they fought back and had some quality wins”. If selected, it would be the first time in the Owls history they bowled two years in a row. Win out and Temple will return to the AAC Championship Game.
Temple held the Bearcats to a three and out in the first series and then Avery Ellis blocked the punt giving them the ball on the Cincy 38. That short drive stalled at the 8 though, from where Aaron Boumerhi banged home the 26yd FG, 8 plays, 30 yds, 3:12 TOP, 10:31 left in the 1st qtr.
After Temple failed on 4th and long at the Cincinnati 35 the Bearcats finally got their initial 1st down with just under 4 minutes left in the 1st Qtr. Two Plays later though Delvon Randall recovered a fumble, forced by Avery Williams at the Temple 45, so Matt Rhule’s faith in the D paid off Bigly, as 4 Plays, 55 yds, 1:58 later – abetted by a Bearcats holding penatly on 3rd and 6 – Phillip Walker threw a 40 yd td pass to Adonis Jennings, 10-0 Owls with 1:45 left in the 1st qtr. A short kick-off then allowed a 60 yd return to the Temple 32, and 5 plays, 32 yds, 1:41 later Gunner Kiel found Devin Gray for a 4yd TD to make it 10- 6 Owls, :06 into the 2nd Qtr, as the PAT failed.
Temple answered right back w/ a quick 4 play, 82 yd, 1:41 drive, featuring a 56 yd scamper by Jahad Thomas, and a 28 yd TD pass to Ventell Bryant, 17-6 Temple with 13:06 ’til halftime.
The next drive though, Cincinnati seemed to have figured out he Temple D driving all the way from their 24 on a mix of run and pass, culminating in a 10 yd TD pass to Gray again. 10 plays, 76yds, 4:35, returning Temple’s lead to 4 with 8:21 left ’til the break. The half finally came to an end with Temple up 17-13, but with Cincinnati looking the better team towards the end, but that would be the last points the Bearcats would put on the board.
Temple’s second drive of the half found them in a deep hole at their own 4, but a 15 play, 87 yard, 7:55 drive -a PI call helped out – took them down to the 5. A running play for a 4 yd loss followed and they had to settle for a 27 yd FG to make it 20-13, 4:23 left in the 3rd period. That period came to an end w/ Temple on another time consuming drive, 6 plays, 62 yds, 3:03 starting from their 33, to get to 1st and goal from the 5. It was done mostly on the ground featuring a 35 yd jawn by Thomas. 12:38 to 2:22 TOP edge for Temple in that period.
On the 2nd play of the 4th qtr Ryquell Armstead took it 3 yds to the house to increase the Temple lead to 27-13, 14:30 left in regulation. Temple recovered a fumble on the squibbling kickoff at the Cincy 18, and Armstead would not be denied and keept on driving forward for a 6 yd TD run, 4 plays, 18 yds, 2:01 with still 12:26 left in the 4th qtr. Temple’s defense did their job the rest of the way, including the 1st sack of Kiel by Praise Martin-Oguike, which gave Temple the ball back with 4:47 left in regulation and Temple was able to run out the clock sending the biggest crowd of the season, 29,763, to celebrate the Halloween weekend after a 34 to 13 W.
Stats RoundUp: Phillip Walker was steady if not outstanding, going 12/19, 199 yds, 16.5 YPC, 2 TDs, 0 Ints. He added 38 yds rushing on 9 carries, a few of which were called draws per Coach Ruhle. Bryant was the leading receiver with 3 catches for 66 yds, 22 YPC, and 1 TD. Thomas was the top rusher, 17 carries, 151 net yds, most of which came on two long runs of 56 and 35. Armstead had one more rush, but got the important calls in the red zone scoring twice. Overall Temple rushed for 275 yds on 60 carries with seven players sharing the load. They held Cincinnati to 119 yds passing, 67 yds rushing, 49 plays overall for 186 yds. Temple crushed Cincinnati in TOP 40:23 – 19:37. All in all, a complete team effort.
This And That: Today was the first time they held a Div 1 opponent under 20 points this season. Rhule: “That’s the running game. That’s time of possession. That’s the turnovers. We played great defense as a team” Avery Ellis blocked a punt for the second week in a row, Temple’s third of the season overall. Freshman Walk-On kicker Boumerhi was 2 for 2 on field goals and is now 7 for 7 this season and perfect on PAT’s as well, after taking over for the injured Austin Jones for the second game. Haason Reddick moved into second place in Temple history in tackles for loss, passing Tyler Matakevich with 40 in his career. Temple great Dan Klecko had 65 TFL. Matt Ruhle is now one game over .500, 24-23 in his Temple career.
Next Ups: The Owls (6-3, 4-1) travel to UConn Friday 10/4 @ 7:00. The Huskies lost at East Carolina today 41-3 falling to 3-6, 1-5. It is a short week and Coach Ruhle noted that they often have a tough time running against them, especially up there. Temple finally has a bye week after that so they will have to maintain focus against an on paper weaker opponent and not look ahead to the week off. I will have more on this game in my Thursday preview.