TEMPLE GETS A WIN OVER UMASS 29-21
A thing of beauty, it wasn’t but the Temple Owls moved to 2-1 with a 29-21 win over the University of Massachusetts of Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
“A win is a win,” said Temple head coach Geoff Collins. “The big thing we talked about all week was going 1-0 Friday night.”
The Owls offense never seemed in sync and they were outgained 458 yards to 387; despite the disparity in yards the defense had nine sacks and was responsible for the only turnover in the game which was part of the key sequence that ultimately led to the victory over the Minutemen (0-4).
Things started out well enough for the Owls when Ryquell Armstead took the second play from scrimmage 56 yards to the UMass 15-yard line. The right side of the line opened a nice hole and Armstead followed the lead block of his fullback Nick Sharga but the Owls had to settle for a 24-yard field goal by Austin Jones.
The Minutemen overcame a fumble on their first play and moved the ball to Owls six-yard line but the Temple defense dug in. Linebacker Sam Franklin knocked away a third-and-goal pass intended for Adam Breneman – the one-time Penn State tight end, who led all tight ends in the nation in 2016 in yards and receptions – and UMass tried a field goal. For the second week in a row, Temple had an opponents kicker miss a field goal by clanking it off of the left upright. This time it was a 23 yarder by Michael Schreiner.
For the rest of the quarter neither team did anything offensively, the Owls had two possessions, ran nine plays and gained eight yards. The Minutemen had two-straight three-and-out and lost 21 yards thanks, in part, to three sacks by the Owls two of which were by Quincy Roche.
“I was locked in just like any other game,” said Roche, a redshirt freshman. “Coach kept preaching, starting fast and taking the next step.”
The early part of the second quarter wasn’t much better, Temple started with great field position – the UMass 46-yard line – but all they could do was try 43-yard field goal by Aaron Boumerhi which was blocked by the Minutemen’s Isaiah Rodgers. On the ensuing possession, the Minutemen moved from their 35-yard line to the Temple 27 on the strength of two catches by Breneman but they would gain only five more yards and this time Schreiner field goal try from 39 yards away was well to the left of the left upright and the Owls still led 3-0.
The Minutemen would finally score with their next possession, Andy Isabella caught a 35-yard pass from Andrew Ford which helped set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ford to Nick Orekoya. Falling behind didn’t seem to appeal to the Owls as they went 73 yards on eight plays in just one minute and 25 seconds. The score came on a beautiful 30-yard throw and catch from Logan Marchi to Adonis Jennings, after Marchi rolled to his right and found Jennings who had gotten behind the UMass defensive back Lee Moses.
“It’s an easier throw for a right-handed quarterback,” Marchi said, “getting my hips downhill and giving Adonis a chance to make a play. We had a one-on-one with a 6-4 receiver, just put it up and let him make a play.”
On the first play after Temple regained the lead, Roche continued his first half dissection of the UMass offense. He sacked Ford for the third time in the half and caused a fumble which he then recovered. Marchi would throw a strike to Keith Kirkwood for an 11-yard touchdown and the Owls went from trailing to a 16-7 lead (Jones missed the PAT after Kirkwood’s touchdown) in 54 seconds.
Despite being in control, the Owls couldn’t put UMass away. Temple managed a pair of field goals in the third quarter (Boumerhi hit from 52 yards and Jones had a 37 yarder). In between the kicks, Ford threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jessie Britt. So, after three quarters, it was still a one possession game.
Early in the fourth, Schreiner missed his third field goal of the game. The next UMass possession ended when the officials picked up a flag for pass interference against the Owls that would’ve given the Minutemen a first-and-goal. The Owls next drive was kept alive when video review determined Ventell Bryant got a first down on a 16-yard pass from Marchi after he was originally marked short. The series would culminate when Marchi connected with Isaiah Wright on a 13-yard score. Wright made a nice one-handed grab on the play.
Ford ran in from three yards out with less that two minutes to go and even though they got the ball back, the Minutemen could do no more damage.
Email Rock Hoffman at Rock@footballstories.com