The Owls’ mistakes continue to haunt them.
Penalties, dropped passes and questionable fourth-down play calling all had a factor in the Owls’ (3-4, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) 28-24 loss against Connecticut (2-4, 1-3 The American) at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.
UConn’s victory was its first win against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent in more than a year. The Huskies were on a 10-game losing streak against FBS teams prior to beating Temple.
“In games like this, every single time that you drop a pass or there’s an incompletion on a makeable catch, that sets you back, it hurts the momentum, it hurts the tempo,” coach Geoff Collins said. “When we were clicking and we were hitting on all cylinders, we were moving the ball up and down the field.”
Temple had a chance to win the game in the final minute. After redshirt-sophomore kicker Michael Tarbutt missed a 36-yard field goal, the Owls regained possession at their own 20-yard line.
Redshirt-freshman tight end Kenny Yeboah and redshirt-junior running back David Hood’s catches combined for 36 yards to set Temple up in UConn territory.
But Temple started to make mistakes.
Redshirt-junior wideout Brodrick Yancy dropped redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi’s pass that would’ve been good for a first down and more possible yardage. Sophomore wideout Isaiah Wright dropped his second pass of the game three plays earlier.
After Yancy’s drop, Hood caught a pass in the flat. But instead of running out of bounds to stop the clock, Hood burned about 12 seconds as he tried making a play by running across the field.
“In that play, I don’t know what Hood was thinking,” Wright said. “With time running out, it’s hard to make a decision like that because you’re trying to do what’s best for the team.”
Marchi chucked a Hail Mary toward redshirt-junior wideout Ventell Bryant, but it fell incomplete as Temple turned the ball over on downs with one second remaining.
Hood made a one-handed snag for 13 yards to make it fourth-and-7 as the Owls trailed 28-24 with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter.
But instead of letting sophomore kicker Aaron Boumerhi attempt a field goal to make it a one-possession game, the Owls went for the fourth-down conversion. Redshirt-senior wideout Keith Kirkwood dropped the pass near the sideline.
“You just gotta move onto the next play,” Marchi said. “There’s plays that guys were wide open and I missed them, so you can’t be hard on those guys. And they know they have to make the catch and that’s football, it happens. You gotta move on to the next play and stay positive.”
Collins said the Owls started off slowly on offense. Six of Temple’s first seven drives in the first half resulted in either a punt or turnover.
The Huskies entered the game ranked 127th out of 129 Division I programs in total defense. In each UConn’s last four games entering Saturday, the Huskies allowed 38 points or more.
Last week against East Carolina, the Owls put up a season-high 34 points. Temple has only scored more than 20 points three times this season.
“We gotta execute and we didn’t execute out there today,” Marchi said. “We gotta catch passes and make the throws that are there and move the ball better, but I thought we did that better in the second half moving down the field. You just gotta make the plays that are there.”
Freshman quarterback Todd Centeio will redshirt the season, offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said. Centeio made his debut against the University of Massachusetts on Sept. 15 and took two snaps in the following game on Sept. 21 against South Florida. He completed both of his pass attempts for 20 yards against the Minutemen.
Junior running back Ryquell Armstead didn’t practice all week, but he played on Saturday. He had nine carries for 31 yards and a touchdown to lead the team. He has been dealing with a left foot injury, he said.
Redshirt-senior offensive lineman Leon Johnson sustained a lower-body injury in the first half and left the game on a cart. Redshirt-junior offensive lineman James McHale played in his place. Redshirt-freshman offensive lineman Vincent Picozzi started in place of redshirt sophomore Jovahn Fair, who hasn’t played since sustaining an injury on Sept. 15 against UMass. Johnson will be evaluated by team doctors and undergo an X-ray examination this week, Collins said.