On an Indian Summer late October night – 75 degrees w/ an 8 mph breeze out of the SW – the Temple Owls (4-3,2-1 AAC East) welcomed the USF Bulls (6-1, 3-0) for an AAC East battle for 1st place.
Even though USF did their thing, scoring quickly almost at will often in the game, it was Temple’s D and some slow and quick scoring by their offense – especially a career night by Ryquell Armstead – that led Temple to a decisive 46-30 victory in front of 25,950 Cherry and White clad fans. Temple did exactly what they had to do against the quick strike offense of USF, winning the TOP battle 39:07 to 20:53, and outscoring the bulls in each of the last 3 qtrs,
Phillip Walker was sharp early finding Ventell Bryant for passes of 31 and 13 yds to keep the first drive of the game going, but USF held them on 3rd and goal from the 5, and Temple had to settle for a 22 yd FG by Aaron Boumerhi to make it 3-0 Owls, 14 plays, 70 yds, 7:50 TOP.
USF showed their quick strike ability and Quinton Flowers‘ mobility late in the 1st qtr on a 6 play, 68 yd drive lasting only 1:18. A Flowers scramble enabled M. Valdez Scantling to get wide open in the end zone for a 7-3 USF lead with 0:19 left.
Temple answered right back with another time consuming drive of 15 plays, 75 yds, 8:12, ending with a strike to a wide open Colin Thompson, his first career TD, in the corner of the end zone with 7:07 left in the half. That lead was short-lived as Flowers found Tyree McCants unmarked, just short of goal line for another quick TD, 8 plays, 75 yds, 2:03, 5:04 left. Praise Martin-Oguike blocked the PAT so USF was only up 13-10, 5:04 left until the break.
Temple showed that they could also score quickly, as on the second play of the ensuing drive Ryquell Armstead took it 76 yds to the house to make it 17-13, 2 plays, 81 yds, 0:57, with still 4:01 to go in the 2nd qtr. Finally the Owls along with some help from USF, made a stop, and instead of being content to run out the half, the Owls drove down the field, with the big play being an outstanding 36 yd catch by Bryant on the sideline, initially ruled an incomplete pass but overturned upon review, down to the 18. Boumerhi then banged it through from 35 yds out, capping off a 4 play, 52 yds, 0:41 drive.
USF opened the 2nd half with for them a time consuming drive of 11 plays, 50 yds, 5:08, but Temple held them to a 42 yd FG. Temple could not answer with their next possession and as the rain began to fall. The Flowers/Marlon Mack tandem then ran the ball right down the field, and a PI in the end zone gave USF three shots to score from the 3, but Flowers only needed one, 3 plays, 84 yds, 0:49 gave the Bulls a 23-20 lead with 5:21 left in the 3rd period. Temple again answered with a quickie drive of their own ending in an Armstead 42 yd scamper for a TD, 3 plays, 78 yds, 1:21, 27-23 Temple, 3:53 left on the 3rd qtr clock.
Temple for really the first time in the game got an SDI of USF on their own merit, and then Avery Ellis blocked the punt, giving the Owls the ball on the USF 20. 2 plays, 0:42 later Jahad Thomas ran it in from 9 yds out to increase their lead to 34-23 with 1:44 left in the 3rd period. Temple held once again and ground out an 8 play, 35 yrd, 4:40 drive, culminating in Boumerhi’s 3rd FG of the night. 37-23 Temple with 10:09 left in regulation.
USF then got back on the fast track with yet another quickie TD, 4 plays, 75 yds, 1:27, to cut Temple’s lead to 7 pts., still 8:42 to go. Temple could not do enough on the next possession but another great punt by Alex Starzyk put USF on their own 13 and a series of penalties and good defensive plays by the Owls ending with an int by Delvon Randall off USF replacement QB Brett Kean (Flowers was hurt on a scramble a play before Kean came in the game) gave the Owls the ball on the 3. Temple ended the scoring w/ a TD by Thomas and then a safety by Romond “two Way” Deloatch on the Bulls next possession to get to the final score of 46-30
Big Numbers: Armstead’s 76 yd TD was the longest run for Temple this season, and the longest of his career, as well as being the 8th longest run in Temple history. He was the 10th back and it was the 17th time overall a Temple back ran for 200+ yards. The last time was back on 12/17 2012 when Montell Harris set a school record of over 300 yds against Army. Bryant’s catch at the end of the 1st half gave him his first career 100 yd receiving game. He came close with 94 last week getting 52 on the game winning drive. Oguike had his nation leading 5th blocked kick of his career.
Streaks, What Streaks: Temple ended each of USF’s streaks noted in my preview including, scoring at least 35 points in 11 games , consecutive 200 yard rushing games (12), and 440+ total offense games (11). Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack combined for “only” 377 total yards.
Owls Leaders: Even though rushing was what really keyed the Owls win, Walker did go 14/21, 209 yds, 14.9 YPC, 1 TD and no Ints. His leading receiver was Bryant with 5 catches for 115 yds, 23 YPC, 0 TDs. As noted above Armstead was your leading rusher at 210 net yds, on 2 carries, 10.5 YPR and 2 TDs. Although Thomas did not gain a ton of yds, he did have 2 rushing TDs. Overall the team ran for 319 Yds.
Next Ups: The Owls(5-3, 3-1 AAC East) are back at the Linc again next Saturday the 29th hosting the Cincinnati Bearcats( 3-3, 0-3) @ 3:30 PM. I will be back at the Linc then and I may have to pick against the Owls again in my preview on Thursday. 😉 On a different kind of football note, I will be covering the final Philadelphia Union regular season game against the NY Red Bulls on Sunday so I will be tweeting and typing at you again then.