No. 25 Temple knocked out UConn, 27-3, Saturday night to clinch its meeting with Houston in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
It was Win and You’re In for the #25 Temple Owls (9-2,6-1) who hosted the UConn Huskies (6-5,4-3) on Senior Night, in the final regular season American Athletic Conference East division tilt – see preview here. That win would earn them a trip to TX. to face the Houston Cougars in the 1st ever AAC Championship Game next Saturday, and a shot at the “Group of 5” NYE/NYD bowl game bid.
And win they did in impressive fashion, especially by Senior Tyler Matakevich, and the rest of the defensive side.
After a change of possessions w/ Temple winning the battle of field position taking over just inside UConn territory, the Owls opened the scoring going 49 yds, in 4 plays as Jahad Thomas finished it off w/ a strong 9 yd run for the TD. That would turn out to be the only score they needed on this night.
The 1st qtr came to and end w/ Temple taking over on downs as Huskies RB Arkeel Newsome was stopped on 4th and 1 then fumbled w/ Stephaun Marshall, returning it 7 yds to the UConn 42, the score remained 7-0 Temple.
They could not convert on that TO as both defenses were determined to hold sway in this one. That was until Temple’s next scoring drive w/ some pinpoint passing and escapability by P. J. Walker along w/ a big PI call, got them to the 3 where UConn stiffened so they had to settle for a 20 YD Austin Jones FG to make it 10-0 Temple, w/ 6:18 left in the half. Meanwhile the Temple D threw their 2nd SDI as neither UConn QB Tim Boyle or Garrett Anderson (rotating in place of injured starter Bryant Shirreffs) could sustain any drives.
The 1st half came to and end w/ Houston running out the clock in the shadow of their goal line so the score remained Temple 10 – Houston Nil at the break.
The 2nd half saw the Owls D picking up right where they left off holding the Huskies to a 3 and out, and then the offense gave that D a further rest going 51 yds, on 13 plays, chewing up a tic under 7 minutes ending w/ another Jones FG, this one from 37 yds out to increase the lead to 13-0, 6:21 left in the 3rd period. After their 3rd SDI of the game, Temple methodically drove down the field, 9 plays, 63 yds. 4:17 off the clock, w/ Walker finding one of his favorite end zone targets in Romond Deloatch, who fought off the defender (twice actually as the 1st one was inexplicably ruled incomplete upon review) to give Temple a 20-0 lead w/ :41 left in the 3rd…and that was the score at the end of the period.
Boyle appeared to have UConn moving on the ensuing drive but a Sean Chandler (4) Int. at the Temple 8 put a stop to that.
Temple would score again when Thomas broke through the line and outran everyone 60 yds to the end zone to make it 27-0 w/ still 8:40 left in regulation.
UConn did manage a 45 yd FG by Bobby Puyol,w/ 5:51 left on the clock, to spoil the shut out bid by the Temple D.
Temple was able to run out the clock w/ the backups on the field, so the final score on this Historic night for the Temple Owl program was Temple 27- UConn 3.
The win gives the Owls their first 10-win regular season in school history.
The Temple D, for the 2nd week in a row did not give up a TD, and only a late FG kept them from their 1st shut out of the season, but it tied the lowest score by the opponent (37-3 win @ Charlotte). They held the Cougars to just 9 net yds rushing on 26 attempts and just 138 yds total for the game, and also added 3 sacks.
P. J. Walker – who after 29 yds passing hit a career high and moved into 2nd place in Temple history -finished the night 19/29 for 160 yds, 1 TD, 0 Ints and his leading receiver was Brandon Shippen 4 rec for 45 yds, as Walker spread it around to 9 different guys. Robby Anderson on his 4th catch of the night became the seventh Owl with 50 catches in a season. Thomas was the top rusher on a tough rushing night, 20 carries for 119 yds. 2 TDs, but that was skewed by his 60 yd td run.
Tyler Matakevich’s five INTs this season is a new single-season record for LBs and he kept his streak alive of leading the team in tackles, 11 w/ 6 solo and 5 assisted, adding to his NCAA active leading totals w/ two more games to come to augment his legacy.
Next week, what this team has worked so hard for all season, a spot in the Inaugural AAC Championship game @ the Houston Cougars (11-1,7-0) Saturday 12/5/15 @ noon on ABC. I look forward to typing at you all once again then