BY ROCK HOFFMAN
COLLEGE FOOTBALL EDITOR
Temple scored a gritty 29-21 win over Tulane at Lincoln Financial Field in an American Conference game that matched the two teams that played in the first Sugar Bowl in 1935; the Owls offense wasn’t as crisp as they would’ve liked but their defense held the Green Wave to 15 points and 140 yards below their season averages thanks in part to Quincy Roche. The junior defensive end recorded three sacks with six tackles for loss, 12 tackles total, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a quarterback hurry. Offensively, the Owls were led by wide receiver Jadan Blue, who had 131 yards and a touchdown on 12 catches. While tight end Kenny Yeboah had a pair of touchdown catches.
“It was not pretty,” said Temple’s head coach Rod Carey emphatically. “It probably should’ve been put away a lot earlier than it was. [We] had to kick three field goals…but we’re happy with the win. Winning is hard.”
Neither team did much in the first quarter but Roche strip sacked Tulane quarterback Justin McMillan and after a scramble for the ball, it was Roche who was on top of it at the Tulane 19.
“The whole d-line, in general, has been turning it up,” said Roche, who has 6.5 sacks in the last two games and 9.5 on the season to rank tied for seventh in the country, “so it makes it a lot easier.”
Despite being set up in the red zone, the Owls (7-3, 4-2 American) could only manage a 35-yard field goal by Will Mobley.
On their next possession, the Green Wave (6-4, 3-3 American) tried to answer. They were helped by a pair of 15-yard penalties committed by Temple and had a first down at the Owls 13-yard line but a false start and losses on back-to-back plays – with cornerback Harrison Hand involved in both - forced the Green Wave to try a 47-yard field goal. The kick never got elevated and Dana Levine was credited with blocking it.
After trading punts, Todd Centeio entered the game at quarterback for Temple; it seemed to spark an Owls offense which had gained just 50 yards to that point. He led them to their only touchdown of the first half. The big play on the drive was a 32-yard completion to tight end David Martin-Robinson, who was wide open along the Temple sideline. The Owls were further aided by a pass interference call against the Green Wave on a third down play, which gave Temple a first-and-goal at the nine. Two plays later, Centeio hit Yeboah with a four-yard touchdown pass.
On the next Temple series, Yeboah had the big play, he caught a 44-yard pass from Anthony Russo. After the drive stalled, Mobley kicked his second field of the half and the Owls led 13-0.
After a three-and-out by Tulane, who had just one first down since their field goal try, Russo was intercepted at the Green Wave 45-yard line by Jaylon Monroe. Tulane, who had 61 yards of offense to that point (about 5 and a half minutes left in the half), marched right down the field with McMillan completing a pair of passes and running three times before Cameron Carroll scored on a 5-yard run to make it 13-7.
Tulane got a big play on the first series of the third quarter when McMillan caught a 27-yard pass from Amare Jones. However, the drive came to a stop after a penalty and three-straight plays where the Green Wave failed to gain positive yardage. The Owls got the ball back and matriculated down the field mixing runs and passes before having to settle for a 20-yard field goal.
On the Green Wave’s ensuing possession, linebacker Chapelle Russell forced a fumble by Corey Dauphine that cornerback Christian Braswell recovered at the Tulane 47. The Owls offense took advantage when Yeboah caught an eight-yard touchdown pass, this time from Russo. Mobley missed the point after and it was 22-7.
“Coach U [co-offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich] used me well, I feel like,” said Yeboah. “He told me I was going to get the ball more. He put me one-on-one with linebackers and a safety. It feels good because I got the opportunity help us win.”
Less than three minutes later, Darius Bradwell scored on a four-yard run for Tulane and it was a one-score game with just under 14 minutes left in the game. The Owls answered, twice they converted third downs and Blue scored on a neat 16-yard pass play. It looked like a jet sweep but Russo pitched forward and Blue took it around the left side to make it 29-14.
Back came the Green Wave, they got one first down on a personal foul against Temple and got a first-and-goal when McMillan connected with Darnell Mooney on a 23-yard pass play on fourth-and-10 at the Owls 25. Two plays later, Carroll had his second touchdown run of the day.
Temple punted after running only a minute, 25 off the clock and Tulane had the ball at their own 33 with five minutes and 23 seconds left. They got a first down on a 15-yard pass on fourth-and-one but Roche stopped Bradwell at the Temple 39 for a seven-yard loss on a third down. A fourth-down pass fell incomplete but the Owls were unable, once again, to run much time off the clock (just a minute and four seconds) before they punted it back to the Green Wave. Starting at their own 29 with 1:34 left, a pass interference on the first play, gave Tulane a first down at the 44. After two incompletions, Roche sacked McMillan for a six-yard loss but McMillan completed a 17-yard tipped pass to Jha’Quan Jackson on fourth-and-16 to keep the game alive. This time, it was second down when Roche sacked McMillan and the Green Wave quarterback could work no more magic; his final two passes hit the ground and the Owls had survived.
Email Rock Hoffman at email@example.com