Temple Owls

Sluggish start dooms Temple, but was an offensive identity discovered?

Sluggish start dooms Temple, but was an offensive identity discovered?

BOX SCORE

The whole “tale of two halves” idiom has existed in football since even before the days of the forward pass.
 
It’s an old cliché that can be bandied about easily to describe the flow of the game and even the ultimate ending.
 
Sometimes that ending is a happy one with jubilant players jumping into each other’s arms on the sideline. Other times, it’s a somber ending that sees dejected players walk off the field with their heads down in disappointment at a lost opportunity.
 
And there was a time late Saturday afternoon when Temple, after clawing back, looked like it would write a final chapter flush with jubilation. But not all stories have happy endings.
 
Instead, when the ink dried, the final chapter of Saturday’s game against Houston was filled with the dejection and disappointment of falling short and downed heads walking to the locker room.
 
After falling behind 20-0 in large part to a miserable offensive first half, Temple’s second-half surge fell short in a 20-13 loss to Houston at seasonably brisk Lincoln Financial Field (see observations).
 
Temple fell to 2-3 on the season and dug itself a 0-2 hole in conference play. Houston improved to 3-1 on the year and 1-0 in the AAC.
 
After getting outgained 232 yards to 114 in the first half, including 130-21 in the first quarter alone, the Owls finally found a running game and offensive rhythm and outgained the Cougars by a 210-156 margin in the second half. But it was too little, too late.
 
“That team that played in the second half is really, really good,” Temple head coach Geoff Collins said of his Owls. “That first half, I thought we had some self-inflicted penalties. We were moving the ball and something would happen. We just have to make sure to clean those things up.
 
“We cannot hurt ourselves. When you’re playing a quality opponent like Houston, who’s one of the top teams in this league, you’ve got to make sure you’re executing everything cleanly, playing as hard as you can and you can’t beat yourselves. They’re too good and we beat ourselves on some silly things.”
 
That first half included nine penalties for 68 yards, two Logan Marchi interceptions and a mind-boggling series that saw Temple have a 1st-and-goal at the Houston 7-yard line only to wind up punting from the Houston 36 on 4th-and-goal after a run that was stuffed for a five-yard loss, an incomplete pass and a third-down play that saw Marchi run for his life backward and take an inconceivable intentional grounding penalty.
 
“I was initially just trying to make a play there,” Marchi, said of his costly intentional grounding decision that made sure the Owls didn’t open the scoring. “I just tried to make a play with my feet and, toward the end, just tried to throw the ball away. It’s not the best decision. You’re in field-goal range. Take the field goal, take the sack if you have to and get the points.”
 
It was another disjointed effort for redshirt sophomore Marchi, who finished the afternoon 20 for 41 for 182 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions, the last of which came on a Hail Mary at the end of the game. Afterward, he lamented on his poor start, which saw him go 13 of 23 for 122 yards and those two picks in the first half.
 
“I was slow,” said Marchi, sporting the battle scar of a black left eye. “It’s obviously not how I wanted to start the game. … First half, we have to start off fast.”
 
“The intensity was there to start the game,” said Temple sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Wright, who finished the day as the Owls’ leading receiver with five grabs for 53 yards. “But you have certain plays that kind of happen that go the way you don’t expect them to. And it takes away from the momentum.”
 
For as poorly as the Owls played in the first half and for as much as they continued to woefully miss an offensive identity, they were still within striking distance, down just 13-0 at the break. But Houston scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kyle Postma to wideout Linell Bonner to make it a 20-0 game on the first drive of the third quarter.
 
That’s when the Owls decided to punch back, fueled by a power run game headed by Ryquell Armstead’s team-high 63 yards on 14 carries and the willingness to stick to it and trust in it.
 
With offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude observing upstairs in the booth for the first time this season, the Owls adjusted in the second half and decided to run it right at the Cougars, who were without superstar All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver, who injured his left knee in the first quarter and did not return.
 
After rushing for just three yards in the first half, the Owls scooted through the Cougars’ defense for 150 rushing yards in the second half.
 
“It all came together in the second half for us in the run game,” Collins said. “Some of the IDs were just a little cleaner. They just willed themselves. We said we’re going to pound the run.”
 
Down 20-3 heading into the fourth, Temple started the quarter with a one-yard TD pitch pass to running back David Hood to pull within 20-10 and liven a pulse. Then with 8:47 left, Aaron Boumerhi drilled his second field goal of the game and the Owls were suddenly alive and kicking.
 
With 5:15 left, Marchi and the Owls started at their own 8-yard line and slowly but surely pushed the ball almost to midfield with just under two minutes left. A questionable rush with Hood on 3rd-and-10 from the Temple 42 went nowhere, setting up the decisive fourth down. But a Marchi pass sailed over Armstead’s head on fourth down, sending Temple’s comeback chances away in the South Philly breeze.
 
Temple did get the ball back with 30 seconds left and no timeouts, but a Hail Mary from its own 30 fell way short and didn’t receive an answer from the football heavens.
 
The Owls don’t believe in moral victories. A loss is a loss and it hurts, but was something found in the second half?
 
“First half, we didn’t move the ball the way we wanted to. Second half, we picked up the running game and we executed the way we wanted to,” Marchi said. “We run the ball well, we throw the ball well and that’s our offense. That second half — that’s how we're going to look.”
 
Hello, much-needed offensive identity?
 
Notes
Temple starting middle linebacker sophomore Shaun Bradley was ejected late in the first quarter for a questionable targeting penalty when he hit Bonner high as Bonner crouched during an incompletion. It was a tough play as Bradley, the Owls’ fourth-leading tackler on the year entering the game, went in for a form tackle but hit Bonner high because of the receiver’s positioning. Officials reviewed the play and still deemed it to be targeting, leading to Bradley’s ejection. Fellow sophomore William Kwenkeu took over for Bradley and finished with a team-high eight tackles.
 
Temple junior running back Jager Gardner (knee) and senior kicker Austin Jones (knee issues stemming from last season’s torn ACL) are expected to miss the rest of the season.

Aaron Boumerhi misses 27-yard FG as Temple falls to Army in OT

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USA Today Images

Aaron Boumerhi misses 27-yard FG as Temple falls to Army in OT

BOX SCORE

WEST POINT, N.Y. – Blake Wilson kicked a 29-yard field goal in the first overtime and Army held off mistake-prone Temple 31-28 on Saturday in a dramatic finish.

Temple had a chance to force another extra period, but Aaron Boumerhi missed left on a 27-yard field goal attempt, his second miss of the game, sending the Black Knights (6-2) into a gleeful frenzy as they remained unbeaten in five games at Michie Stadium and became bowl-eligible.

Army, which disdains the pass nearly all of the time and ranks last nationally, tied the game through the air with a 14-play, 79-yard drive in the final 91 seconds of regulation. Backup quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr., Army's top passer, completed five passes for 67 yards, hitting Jermaine Adams in the left corner of the end zone with a perfectly thrown 16-yard strike with one second left.

It was the last nonconference game of the year for Temple (3-5), which has lost four of five.

Ryquell Armstead rushed for 151 yards on 18 carries and scored twice in the fourth quarter for Temple. His 21 yard-run around the left side with 1:38 left seemed to doom the Black Knights.

Temple quarterback Logan Marchi, who had two straight 300-yard games, did not start. Owls officials said he was hurt in last week's game against UConn but was available to play. Redshirt junior Frank Nutile, the only other player on the roster with game experience, got the nod. His resume included six games and six completions, but he rose the occasion. Nutile finished 20 of 29 for 290 yards passing and one touchdown with zero turnovers.

The Temple defense held Army to 135 yards on 27 carries in the first half as the nation's second-leading rushing team found few openings and the Black Knights managed just 29 yards on 10 carries in two three-and-outs in the third. Army entered the game averaging 378.4 yards a game and finished with 248.

Darnell Woolfolk led the Black Knights with a career-high 132 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, the key to the ground game, gained just 49 yards on 13 carries.

The Owls broke a 14-all tie early in the fourth after a critical third-and-11 play. Tailback David Hood snared a screen pass with one hand in the right flat and raced 36 yards to set up Armstead's 43-yard run.

The Black Knights answered by finally breaking through on the ground. Woolfolk burst up the middle for a 44-yard touchdown with 5:03 left in the fourth.

The Owls have been plagued by mistakes, and another one cost them in the second quarter. Army linebacker Cole Christiansen blocked Alex Starzyk's punt and recovered it at the Temple 28. Bradshaw then hit Jeff Ejekam for 24 yards and Woolfolk scored on the next play from the 4 to give Army a 14-0 lead early in the second.

Nutile found some comfort in the pocket and completed a 17-yard pass to Keith Kirkwood on a third-and-8 play and Isaiah Wright scored on a 50-yard run out of a wildcat formation on the next play.

After forcing an Army punt, Nutile gained 13 and five yards on consecutive keepers and then hit Adonis Jennings for 37 yards over the middle for a touchdown to tie it at 14-all with 3:38 left in the half.

Army gained a 7-0 lead in the final minute of the opening quarter on Woolfolk's punishing 11-yard run. The big fullback broke three tackles on his way into the end zone.

The takeaway
Temple: The Owls might have a quarterback quandary. Although Marchi had two strong games throwing the ball, he's also thrown eight interceptions. Nutile entered the game 6 of 14 for 80 yards passing with one pick.

Army: The Black Knights have won two games without completing a pass, but Bradshaw went 2 for 2 for 42 yards in the first half and looked steady in a role that's rare in this triple option and Hopkins proved Army's passing game can be a factor going forward.

Kicking out of trouble
Army punter Nick Schrage had kicks of 65 and 52 yards after two three-and-outs in the third quarter to keep Temple at bay. The game remained tied when Boumerhi's 32-yard field goal attempt for the Owls hit the right upright.

Up next
Temple: The Owls have a bye before facing Navy in a night game on Thursday, Nov. 2.

Army: The Black Knights have a bye before traveling to play service academy rival Air Force on Nov. 4.

Fran Dunphy and Herb Magee to host an exhibition for charity

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US Presswire

Fran Dunphy and Herb Magee to host an exhibition for charity

Two legendary Philadelphia basketball coaches will square off for charity.

Temple’s Fran Dunphy and Jefferson’s (Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University) Herb Magee will have their teams face off at the Liacouras Center on Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

All ticket sales will be donated to One America Appeal to help those impacted by recent hurricanes that hit Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

“When the opportunity presented itself to play an exhibition game to raise money for the people suffering from the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, we knew right away that we needed to be a part of it,” Dunphy said in a statement. "I called my good friend, Herb Magee, one of the most respected men in the business, and he felt the same way. This gives our fans a rare opportunity to see our programs compete while also helping out those in need.”

“It is a tremendous opportunity for our team,” Magee said. “Coach Dunphy and I have been friends for a long time. We talked about playing one day and that time is now. We're looking forward to it, especially as we begin our new era as the Jefferson Rams. Being able to provide aid to those impacted by the recent natural disasters makes this game that much more special.”

Temple requested a waiver from the NCAA to play this exhibition for charity.

The Owls tip off their season against Old Dominion in the Charleston Classic on Nov. 16, while the Rams travel to Anaheim, California to open Concordia on Nov. 3.