AKRON, Ohio – The Temple defense ranks second among the 13-team Mid-American Conference. The unit held Akron to 297 yards of total offense in the Owls’ 24-20 victory last Saturday at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio.
The Owl defense forced two interceptions from the hand of Zips quarterback Chris Jacquemain and held him to 12-of-21 passing for a mere 145 yards and two touchdowns.
But Jacquemain’s quarterbacking counterpart, red-shirt junior Adam DiMichele had himself a heckuva ballgame and was a huge reason the Owls notched their first back-to-back victories since 2002.
DiMichele was 23-of-34 for 242 yards and added three touchdowns in the win. He scrambled for 24 yards on the game-winning drive, netting his offense two first downs and keeping his team alive.
He led the Owls in rushing also, gaining 62 yards on 12 totes, many of his carries making something out of nothing. DiMichele showed his team his resolve and his desire to win.
That performace garnered DiMichele MAC Co-Offensive Player of the Week honors.
DiMichele has made a believer out of his coach, Al Golden.
“I’ve been saying this for some time now,” Golden said. “He’s special. He’s only going to get better. . . We’ve got to keep working to build it around him. I think he’s a unique player to be honest with you.”
DiMichele has passed for 1,559 yards and 12 touchdowns while completing 61.2 percent of his passes. He’s also shown his ability to scramble, rushing for 124 yards.
Red-shirt sophomore linebacker Lamar McPherson, in his first year with the Owls, has a boatload of confidence in his quarterback.
McPherson has so much confidence in his quarterback that when DiMichele and the offense took the field trailing the Zips, 20-17, with 1:56 left in the fourth quarter, McPherson had only three thoughts standing on the sidelines.
“Score. Win. Get back on the plane,” he said.
After leading the offense on a 12-play, 56-yard drive last week to set up red-shirt sophomore kicker Jake Brownell’s clinching 39-yard field goal versus Northern Illinois, DiMichele decided he would do it himself this week.
“We know our backs were up against the wall and there’s only one way to go and that’s forward,” he said. “That’s what we do. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”
Golden heaped more praise onto his quarterback.
“Nobody will work harder than [Adam],” Golden said. “He knows every look and the kid prepares like crazy and he’s very bright.”
Akron coach J.D. Brookhart also gave DiMichele his due after the game.
“We knew he was a dangerous player coming into [the] game,” Brookhart said. “He was able to get a few runs and complete a few passes. He worked really hard.”
And the offense has been following their leader.
After wearing the inscription “Be their leader” on his wristband in the Northern Illinois game and following through that afternoon, he did the same against Akron.
DiMichele tossed three touchdowns, including the game-winning 19-yarder to sophomore Dy’Onne Crudup, in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback. DiMichele also found junior receiver Bruce Francis and junior tight end Kevin Armstrong for touchdowns.
Playing with an offense that started two freshmen on the offensive line, left guard Colin Madison and right guard Derek Dennis, and a freshman running back in Daryl Robinson getting the nod, DiMichele found a way to persevere and lead, showing why he is a team captain.
Through the first three quarters, DiMichele’s stats were not extraordinary: 13-of-19 for 130 yards and two interceptions.
In the fourth quarter, though, DiMichele showed his mettle. He went 10-of-15 for 112 yards and three touchdowns.
On the game-winning touchdown toss, DiMichele called an audible from one play into the game-winning pass play.
“He has a tremendous work ethic,” Golden said. “He’s our hardest worker. He’s our hardest worker on our team. And when you have a leader at quarterback who’s your hardest worker and prepares like he does…He just checked and threw the ball in there.”
And DiMichele will continue to fight and scrap just like he said his receivers do for him.
“We ain’t the biggest guys,” DiMichele said. “They had [6-foot-4, 225-pound Jabari Arthur] out there, who looked like an animal. But [Dy’Onne and Bruce] are tough as nails. They’ll dive for balls like you’ve seen all year. And with Marquise [Liverpool] out there, we’ve got guys that can make plays.”
DiMichele could be talking about himself with that quote.
And he’s been making plays all year.
Terrance McNeil can be reached at email@example.com.