Early in Temple’s week of preparation for Friday’s game, Quincy Roche told junior safety Delvon Randall that the University of Massachusetts’ offensive line wouldn’t be able to block him.
He was right.
Roche made eight tackles, four of which for loss, in Temple’s 29-21 win at Lincoln Financial Field. The redshirt-freshman defensive lineman sacked Massachusetts redshirt-junior quarterback Andrew Ford three times. He frequently matched up against UMass sophomore Ray Thomas-Ishman, Sr., a 350-pound lineman.
“Quincy is a tremendous player, but that performance today, it shocked me,” redshirt-senior cornerback Mike Jones said. “He makes a lot of plays in practice, but that was a big-time stage for him to make all those plays.”
Roche recorded the Owls’ first three-sack performance since former linebacker Tyler Matakevich dropped Christian Hackenberg three times in Temple’s win against Penn State in 2015.
After the Owls allowed 47 yards on third-down plays on the Minutemen’s first drive, Temple responded with three consecutive tackles for loss on UMass’ second drive. Roche started the sequence by sacking Ford and taking down sophomore running back Bilal Ally for a 1-yard loss.
UMass started a drive looking for late first-half points after falling behind by three with one minute and four seconds left in the second quarter. Roche sacked Ford and forced a fumble on the first play. After the ball bounced around momentarily, Roche fell on it to set up the Owls’ offense in the red zone.
UMass had an opportunity to score before halftime and receive the second-half kickoff. Instead, the play helped the Owls score their second touchdown in a 54-second span.
The Minutemen entered Friday’s game with 63 first downs. Nearly two-thirds of them came on pass plays. Roche said the team anticipated that Massachusetts would feature the passing game.
Through its first two games, Temple’s defense had a havoc rate — a measure of the percentage of plays where a tackle for loss, forced fumble or pass defense occurred — of 16.6 percent, which was just below the Football Bowl Subdivision average.
With nine sacks, three forced fumbles and three pass breakups, the Owls had a havoc rate of 20.8 percent on Friday. Eleven defensive linemen rotated in and out of the game so the team would have fresh pass rushers. Coach Geoff Collins said Temple used twists and straight rushes and other methods to hurry Ford.
“Our goals on defense this week were to get after the quarterback,” said senior defensive lineman Jacob Martin, who had three tackles and a sack. “That was out of the D-ends’ rush and letting the inside guys play some games on the inside. …We were challenged early in the week to take over the game, and I believe we took the game over tonight.”
Temple’s nine sacks on Friday was its highest total since the 10 it recorded in 2015 against Penn State.
The Owls’ next challenge is on the road Thursday against South Florida, the No. 22 ranked team in the Associated Press Top 25 and preseason conference favorite. The Bulls set a new school record against an FBS opponent on Friday with 680 yards against the University of Illinois.
Bulls senior Quinton Flowers is a dual-threat quarterback. He rushed for more than 100 yards in eight different games last season and threw for 250 or more yards four times.
Flowers’ offensive line has allowed pressure, though, so far this season. The Bulls are tied for 98th in sacks allowed per game. Pressuring Flowers will be key if Temple is to pull off an upset in its American Athletic Conference opener.
“They’re a very good team [with] a lot of explosive guys, but I think we have some great guys on defense that can match up with those guys, too,” Martin said.