Temple Owls

Temple-UMass observations: It wasn't pretty but Owls hang on to top UMass

Temple-UMass observations: It wasn't pretty but Owls hang on to top UMass

BOX SCORE

It wasn’t pretty and it was much closer than Temple probably would have wanted, but the Owls dispatched UMass, 29-21, Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls badly needed to gain momentum ahead of a critical matchup against the American Athletic Conference favorite — No. 22 South Florida — and after a sloppy start, they did.

After UMass took a 7-3 lead with 2:23 left in the second quarter, Temple sprung off 16 unanswered points and grinded out a gritty win in front of an announced “22,911” fans.

Temple quarterback Logan Marchi connected on two quick touchdown passes to close out the first half — a 30-yard TD toss to Adonis Jennings and then an 11-yarder to Keith Kirkwood with 10 seconds left in the second quarter. After Marchi’s TD pass to Jennings, redshirt freshman defensive end Quincy Roche forced and recovered a fumble.

Roche’s turnover allowed the Owls to take a 16-7 lead into halftime. Despite UMass keeping it close in the second half, TU was able to escape because of that momentum.

It’s Temple’s second straight win and Geoff Collins’ second win as coach. UMass is 0-4.

• It was quite the first half for Roche, who had three tackles for loss and two sacks in the first quarter, and then the forced fumble and recovery in the second quarter. He had three sacks, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery at the half.

• Temple sacked UMass QB Andrew Ford nine times. Roche had three, Sam Franklin and Sharif Finch had two, while Jacob Martin and Isaiah Graham-Mobley had one.

• While the Temple defense had a solid night stopping the run — allowed just 81 yards on the ground — and creating pressure, its pass defense left much to be desired. Ford threw for over 377 yards and UMass picked up 25 first downs against Temple. But credit goes to defensive back Derrek Thomas for coming through in a big moment.

On a 4th-and-10 on the Temple 28-yard line in the fourth quarter, Ford went deep intended for Brennon Dingle, and if it weren’t for a heady play by Thomas, UMass could have tied the game with a two-point conversion. Thomas turned his head around and defended the ball. A flag was thrown but then picked up for no foul.

• Temple needs to find a way to get Isaiah Wright the ball more. He’s dynamic. Wright put the game away with a beautiful one-handed TD grab in the corner of the end zone with 3:48 left. Wright’s touchdown gave Temple a 29-14 lead. It was gorgeous.

Wright had four catches for 69 yards and a TD.

• We got our first glimpse at freshman quarterback Todd Centeio on the first drive of the second quarter. Centeio completed his first two passes for 20 yards, picked up a first down and the offense appeared to have more life with him under center than Marchi. But then Collins put Marchi back in on a 3rd-and-3 on the UMass 24-yard line. Temple failed to convert, which led to an Aaron Boumerhi 43-yard blocked field goal attempt. But the decision to take Centeio out was questionable. The Owls’ offense finally had some flow, some positive plays, some momentum. Then the switch at QB.

It didn’t make much sense, and it potentially cost TU seven points. Collins is a rookie coach, and these type of decisions are something he’ll learn along the way. Temple rotated QBs from Marchi to Centeio in the second quarter. Marchi got the brunt of the workload Friday. It was a grisly start for the redshirt sophomore, but he settled down.

• Marchi made his third start and was underwhelming before heating up in the second half of the second quarter. He finished the half on a high note, with two TDs — the 30-yarder to Jennings and 11-yarder to Kirkwood. He was better in the second half. Final line: 22 of 37 for 248 yards, three TDs. He has yet to throw an INT.

• I think it’s time to throw the option play out of the playbook as long as Marchi is the quarterback. It’s not working and it’s a momentum-killer.

• Ryquell Armstead, who entered the game averaging just 2.8 yards per carry, finally gained some traction on the ground. While it was as a result of a few big runs — including a 56-yard scamper — Armstead, a junior, had 91 yards on 17 carries.

• It was a rough night to be a kicker. UMass kicker Michael Schreiner missed two field goals in the first half. For Temple, Austin Jones missed an extra point and Boumerhi had a field goal blocked. All of those came in the first half, which featured largely bad football.

• Just kidding. Boumerhi redeemed himself with a 52-yarder in the third quarter. It barely cleared the goal post. It was a career-long kick for Boumerhi, and the longest by a Temple kicker since Brandon McManus’ 53-yarder Sept. 3, 2010, against Villanova.

• Schreiner missed another FG in the second half. He is 0 for 4 so far in his career.

• Temple has a short week. The Owls move on and head to Tampa for a Thursday night game against conference favorite, No. 22 South Florida, easily their stiffest challenge of the season. Sure, Temple began the Collins era in South Bend, Indiana, against Notre Dame, a storied program with NFL talent but one that has lost 11 of its last 16 matches, including bowl games, under Brian Kelly’s guidance. USF offers a healthy challenge.

The Bulls, led by Charlie Strong, the former University of Texas head coach, feature dual-threat quarterback Quinton Flowers that should provide the Owls’ defense with nightmares. Collins came to Temple regarded as a defensive guru, and the defense is going through growing pains having to replace seven starters. The USF game will be the measuring stick to see where this Owls team is. I wouldn’t expect a pretty outcome.

But, hey, Temple won Friday night. The Owls are 2-1. There is no reason for Temple fans to come down to earth yet. The Owls can enjoy this one for a couple of days.

Shizz Alston Jr., Quinton Rose lead Temple over St. Joe's in Big 5 battle

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Shizz Alston Jr., Quinton Rose lead Temple over St. Joe's in Big 5 battle

BOX SCORE

With five minutes and 22 seconds left in the first half and Temple trailing St. Joe’s, 26-24, De’Vondre Perry took a three-pointer that hit the back iron and missed long.

Out of nowhere, Quinton Rose streaked down the center of the free throw lane, leaped above everyone on the floor, corralled the offensive rebound and completed the two-handed slam to tie the game, prompting an eruption from the Liacouras Center crowd.

“That’s just how [Quinton] plays,” Shizz Alston Jr. said. “When guys start jawing at him he just turns it up a notch. I think some of their players were talking to him and he just got juiced up off of that.”

The play energized the Owls after a slow start, highlighting a 17-3 run to end the half and leading to an 81-78 Temple victory (see observations). Alston Jr. led all scorers with 20 points, including five three-pointers, and Rose added a 15 point, 11 rebound double-double for the squad.

At the start of the game, St. Joe’s came out hot, hitting on three of their first five three-point attempts and jumping out to a 17-8 lead early in the game. After a Fran Dunphy timeout with just less than 13 minutes left in the half, the Owls seemed to tighten up defensively.

“He just told us we had to pick it up,” Rose said. “It’s simple as that.

"I think we had a lack of communication and the biggest thing is we don’t finish our possessions with rebounds. We give up a lot of second-chance points. We just have to straighten that up and I think we’ll be good.”

Obi Enechionyia and Rose came up with big blocks and Temple started forcing turnovers. This helped the offense get going, in particular, Alston, whose 15 first-half points kept Temple in the ball game despite the hot shooting start by St. Joe's.

Perry, a true freshman, provided a spark off the bench for the Owls, contributing nine points in the first half, including two threes and a tough finish at the rim.

“He showed a lot of toughness,” Rose said. “I mean he’s young, but he showed a lot of toughness on the defensive end and rebounding. He made some big shots for us too.”

Perry attributed a lot of the open looks he got to his teammates.

“My teammates opened it up for me,” Perry said. “Either driving or kicking or just doing what they do best by penetrating and giving me the ball.”

Temple’s star big man, Enechionyia, struggled throughout the game, going 1 for 8 from the field and finishing with four points while being limited to 23 minutes because of foul trouble. Center Ernest Aflakpui came up big in his absence, putting up 12 points on 5 for 6 from the field and adding six rebounds.

“If we can count on a dozen points from Ern every game, that would be spectacular,” Dunphy said. “It’s obviously not his forte, but he did a terrific job. I thought he was poised at the rim and didn’t rush himself.”

In the last five minutes, the Hawks rallied from 16 down and cut the lead to four, but five clutch free throws from fifth-year senior guard Josh Brown sealed Temple’s first Big 5 and Atlantic-10 win of the year.

“I thought Josh Brown saved us at the foul line,” head coach Fran Dunphy said. “I thought he played great again. He played great against Wisconsin and played great again. I’m very, very proud of him.”

The Owls, now 6-2 on the season, will host the No. 4-ranked Villanova Wildcats, who could jump to No. 1 in the country after Duke’s loss Saturday, in another Big 5 showdown this Wednesday at the Liacouras Center.

“It’s a really big opportunity,” Rose said. “I hope they are No. 1 so we can knock them off.”

Temple-St. Joe's observations: Owls hold off late rally

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Temple-St. Joe's observations: Owls hold off late rally

BOX SCORE

Temple on Saturday afternoon nabbed its first win against a Big 5 team and an Atlantic 10 team with an 81-78 victory over St. Joe’s at the Liacouras Center.

With five clutch free throws from fifth-year senior guard Josh Brown, the Owls held off a late rally by the Hawks. Shizz Alston Jr. led the Owls with 20 points and four rebounds, while Quinton Rose added a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.

Temple moves to 6-2 on the season with the victory.

• St. Joe’s was on fire early on, making three of its first five three-point attempts, en route to a 17-8 lead just over seven minutes into the game.

• After a Fran Dunphy timeout with 12:44 left in the first half, Temple turned up its effort on defense. Big blocks by Rose and Obi Enechionyia allowed Temple to take the lead, 18-17, with 9:30 left in the half. The Owls forced a total of eight turnovers in the first half.

• Alston, Jr. dominated the first half and really kept the Owls in the game during St. Joe’s early run. He went 5 for 8 from the field in the first half, including 4 of 5 from three-point range, for 15 points. The junior guard has developed tremendously since last season, coming into this contest averaging 16.9 points, which is up from 13.9 points per game last year in his sophomore campaign.

• Enechionyia struggled in the first half, going 1 for 6 from the field in 17 minutes of action. He missed multiple fadeaway jumpers on the baseline and didn’t make an impact in the post. He also picked up his third foul less than a minute into the second half and had to go to the bench. The senior power forward finished the afternoon with just four points and six rebounds.

• Junior center Ernest Aflakpui filled in tremendously with Enechionyia on the bench. He scored 12 points while shooting 83 percent from the field, added six rebounds and disrupted shots around the rim.

• De’Vondre Perry also played a big role for Temple, putting up nine points, 6.9 points more than his season average, in 21 minutes of action, which is up from his season average of 12.3 minutes per game. The true freshman did it in a variety of ways as well, driving and finishing at the basket, drawing fouls and adding two three-pointers. Perry was the only freshman to play in the game.

• Rose displayed his incredible athleticism with multiple big plays in the first half. The sophomore guard slashed through the lane and made a contested layup to put Temple up 18-17, and then followed a Perry missed three-pointer with a put-back dunk that caused the crowd to erupt. He also missed a few layups during the game, showing he still can refine his touch around the basket, but finished the game with 15 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.

• The student section was involved throughout the game, bringing out big-head posters during opponents’ free throws, making noise after airballs and erupting after multiple big Rose dunks. In Temple’s second Big 5 game of the year, the Owls fans needed to out-do the St. Joe’s fans who traveled to North Philly, and they certainly did.

• The win marks Temple’s first Big 5 victory of the year, almost two weeks after its 87-83 road loss to La Salle. It was a physical matchup that seemed like it would get chippy. Rose got into a St. Joe’s player’s face after a layup in the first half. Enechionyia was elbowed in the face while going up for a rebound at the end of the first half. Temple was the more physical, scrappy team Saturday, but will need to be better this Wednesday against another Big 5 team, No. 4 Villanova.

The Hawks return to action next Sunday when they host Maine.