Temple Owls Stuff the Memphis Tigers 31-12

Haason Reddick tackles Jae'lon Oglesby during Temple's win over Memphis on Saturday. (USA Today Images)

Haason Reddick tackles Jae’lon Oglesby during Temple’s win over Memphis on Saturday. (USA Today Images)

On a sun splashed Fall Football Saturday, the Temple Owls (8-2, 5-1) hosted the Memphis Tigers (8-2,4-2) in and East/West American Athletic Conference tilt.  It was a game in which the Owls had much more to play for as if they won out (they host UConn {5-5,3-3} next week), or a win w/ a USF loss, they would play in the inaugural Championship Game on 12/5/15 against the Houston Cougars (who beat Memphis last week 35-34 knocking them out of the west race) or the Navy Midshipmen who are each undefeated in the AAC play and face each other on Friday in Houston.  Temple is coming off its 2nd sub-par defensive game in a row in a 44-23 loss @ USF and they really needed to fix the defense w/ the high scoring Tigers coming to town – 15 of their players have scored at least 2 TDs. Head Coach Matt Rhule unusually called out the Owls D earlier this week “Saturday was a case of guys doing their own thing, I usually protect the players, but on this one I won’t protect them. I love our guys, they are good hard-nosed kids”. As slight home dogs this is the week that Temple needed to prove they belonged back in the top 25, and a shot at that elusive “group of 5” NYD bowl game slot which they could only earn w/ a win in the AAC championship game.

And they did just that definitively. Ruhle’s lambasting appeared to do the trick as the Temple Defense pitched a shut out as far as TD’s go, only giving up 4 FG’s, and the offense and special teams overcame multiple turnovers to score enough to win this one fairly easily.

Two good drives by Temple to start the game were ended by turnovers, a fumble by Jahad Thomas, and then an INT in the end zone of P.   J.    Walker. The Owls held them to a 3 and out after the fumble, but Memphis converted on the 2nd TO going all the way to the Temple 13, helped out by a number of missed tackles, but a dropped pass on 3rd and 3 made Memphis settle for a 31 yd FG by Jake Elliot to open the scoring, this would be a motif of the game..and the 1st period ended w/ the score Memphis 3 – Temple 0.

On the wrap-around drive Temple turned it over again, this time on downs as they could not make a 4th and 1 @ their own 45, but Temple held them to another FG. Early in the game it looked like the Tigers had more to play for than the Owls.

On the ensuing drive Temple found a way to hold on to the ball going 8 plays, 75 yds as Walker found Romond Deloatch, who made a great catch over the defender, for a 13 yd TD.  Even w/ all the loose play Temple now had the lead 7-6 w/ 8:14 left until 1/2 time. After a 3 and out they took the next drive 5 plays, 68 yds,  featuring a 49 yd pass and run to converted DT Brandon Shippen on 3rd and 6, that took them to the Tiger 15. Red-shirt FR David Hood (his 1st career rushing TD) did the rest w/ a strong 14 yd rush into the endzone to give them a 14-6 lead w/ 4:36 left ’til the break.

Temple D bent but did not break on the next drive, once again holding Memphis to their 3rd FG of the game  to make it 14-9, 1:28 left in the 2nd…and that was the score @ the half.

The 2nd half started w/ changes of possession including another TO on a blocked punt recovered by Memphis on the Owls 21, but the defense stiffened and Elliot finally missed a FG, but again they turned it over on downs @ their own 44, but the D once again held them to another FG to keep the lead now 14-12 w/ 3:41 left in the 3rd period…and that period came to an end on the same score w/ Temple driving, 2nd and 8 on the Memphis 13.

On the 1st play of the 4th the trickeration play of the week had TE Kip Patton taking the quick hand-off from Walker and going untouched 13 yds for the TD, capping a 9 play, 75 yd drive to make it a two score lead @ 21-12. The Temple D continued to keep the high scoring Tigers offense at bay w/ an SDI and the offense proceeded to chew up a tic under 8 minutes – 13 plays, 62 yds – scoring on a 35 yd Austin Jones FG to make Memphis have to score 2 TDs to retake the lead, w/ 5:25 left in regulation. The Temple D put an exclamation point on the next drive w/ another SDI featuring a stop on 4th and 1. The Owls offense put the finishing touches on the next drive w/ a TD pass to Imhotep Charter grad two way TE SR  Saledeem Major – his 1st career TD. With that TD pass  P.   J.   Walker eclipsed the  school record of 49 career TD passes (Henry Burris 93-96) and increased the lead to 31-12.

At the gun the final score remained 31-12 and Temple for now can forget about the past games and focus in the task in front of them.  This game certainly will give the defense a lift after the last two weeks and the offense though they had a few turnovers, did not commit any penalties so that is a step forward.

Notes:

P.   J.  Walker finished the game 14/26, 261 yds, 2 TD’s, 1 Int. The leading receiver was Robby Anderson 5 catches for 80 yards as Walker spread the ball around to 8 different players.  Hood was the leading rusher w/ 61 yds on 14 carries and his 1st rushing TD.

Jahad Thomas who was obviously playing hurt had a rushing TD streak ended.

Early in the 2nd qtr Tyler Matakevich recorded his fourth tackle of the game to become the first Owl and seventh player in college football history with 100 tackles in all four collegiate years. He also continued his streak of leading the team in tackles in 2015.

Next week the owls face UConn (5-5,3-3) on Saturday @ 7:00 on ESPNU. A win or a loss by USF  (playing @ UCF Thanksgiving night) will put Temple in the AAC Championship game on 12/5/15.

 

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