Robby Anderson had eight catches for 126 yards and the go-ahead touchdown in No. 22 Temple’s 24-14 win over East Carolina. (USA Today Images)
In a Prime Time American Athletic Conference East match-up between the 1st place Temple Owls (6-0,3-0) and 2nd place East Carolina Pirates (4-3,2-1) – see preview here – Temple over came penalties, an inconsistent offense, and a fired up ECU defense, to beat the Pirates 24-14.
Both teams were coming off a home win. Temple was playing to keep their perfect season and top 25 rankings alive, and the Pirates possibly had revenge on their minds as they lost in almost the same situation (ranked # 19, but they had already lost one game) at the Linc last season.
Like last week, Temple got on the board 1st, albeit this time on a 28 yd Austin Jones FG, after holding East Carolina to a quick 3 and out. The drive of 9 plays 48 yds was helped by some big Pirates penalties. More E. Carolina penalties helped the Owls get an SDI on an 8 play, 16 yd drive.
ECU missed a FG- a big sack by Averee Robinson helped to move the try back 7 yds – and soon after the 1st period came to an end, 3-0, Temple.
In the 2nd qtr the scoring picked up as the teams traded TD’s (Jahad Thomas scoring untouched on a 2 yd run for Temple), w/ each team helping the other w/ a growing # of penalties, but it was ECU that scored last. On the 13 play, 75 yd 2:41 drive they showed why they are ranked 12th in 3rd down conversions (47.7). Both Pirates QB’s Blake Kemp and James Summers were involved, making four 3rd downs, and one 4th and 10. The last 3rd down was the TD w/ only :18 left in the half.
At the gun, the Pirates were up 14-10 over the Owls.
Except for that scoring drive in the 1st half, Temple’s offense was pretty much stifled by the ECU defense, and Owls QB P. J. Walker was often off-target and his receivers dropped some catchable balls. Temple’s D was not as good as usual committing drive elongating penalties and giving up too many open passes, especially on 3rd down. That changed when All Everything Tyler Matakevich stepped in front of a Kemp pass @ the ECU 41 returning it 27 yds for the 1st turnover of the night for either team. But it did not change the momentum much as more bad penalties by Temple hurt the ensuing drive and Jones missed a 52 yd FG. This was starting to look a lot like last week where Temple hurt themselves more than the other team’s proficiency did, except ECU is a much better team than UCF, so it was harder for Temple to overcome the mistakes.
The 3rd period ended w/ no scoring, still 14-10 ECU.
W/ 10:20 to go In the 4th, Temple got their 2nd turnover of the game on a forced fumble @ their own 45 but ECU stiffened again and Jones missed another FG, this time from a makeable 37 yds. It was looking not to be Temple’s night w/ 7:24 left in the ballgame. Temple did hold ECU to a 3 and out so w/ a tic under 6 minutes to go it was time for the Owls to do what teams that aspire to be ranked do and find a way to win this one.
And that is just what they did. A 7 play, 71 yd, 2:28 drive, capped off on 2nd and 13, by a 23 yd strike caught by Robby Anderson @ the 6, which he took into the end zone. W/ 3:31 left on the clock Temple had regained the lead, 17-14. Temple D responded as well w/ a 3 and out for their 2nd SDI of the game, followed by a blocked punt (their 2nd of the night) which Temple recovered @ the ECU 15. While trying to run out the clock Thomas broke through the line for his 2nd rushing TD of the night, this time from 14 out, to stretch the lead to a more comfortable 24-14, which was the score as the clock hit 0:00.
Too many penalties, and not scoring after the 1st two turnovers, as well as the well coached ECU D kept this close through most of this one, and this will give coach Matt Rhule plenty to discuss this week in practice leading up to the now even more anticipated game next week against some big name opponent, but in the end a Huge and Historic win for the Temple franchise, which should be celebrated by all who follow the Owls.
Firsts now and for awhile: Temple goes 7-0 for the 1st time in their 121 year history, 1st 4-0 road start, 1st 4-0 start in conference play since 2009 in the MAC, 1st win at East Carolina since 1985.
W/ the win Temple also now has a 2 game lead in the AAC East
Temple had given up 29 2nd half points on the season, tonight 0.
Next week, in case you were under a sports shielding dome, Notre Dame (6-1) comes to a sold out Lincoln Financial Field for another Prime Time game on Halloween @ 8:00 PM and now easily one of the biggest games ever for the Temple Owls.