Five games of futility were wiped away on one drive Saturday. The football team struggled mightily through its first five contests of the season.
But in one drive – a three-play, 58-yard march that culminated in a touchdown – against Kent State, there was a marked momentum shift between the Owls’ other losses and their 28-17 defeat to the Golden Flashes last weekend.
Bouncing around their sideline at Lincoln Financial Field, the Owls were seen on the big screens smiling. They pumped their fists. They waved towels.
All of that optimism came courtesy of the Owls’ opening drive and the legs of running back Tim Brown.
The senior from Stockton, Calif., rushed three times for 58 yards on the game-starting drive, which included a 31-yard dash into the end zone.
The line on the Owls’ opening drive: Three plays, 58 yards, one minute, 51 seconds.
The Owls took just 1:51 off the game clock to establish their first lead in a game this season.
“We came out ready to play and we wanted them to know we were ready,” Brown said.
“The best way to put it is we were hungry.”
More importantly, though, the Owls maintained that momentum and were in control of this one from the start. Or so it appeared.
Temple held the lead or was tied for the lead over the game’s initial 25 minutes, six seconds.But it wouldn’t last.
Clearly, the Owls had game-planned around the Golden Flashes’ dominant pass defense, which ranked eighth-best in the nation prior to Saturday’s game.
And it showed, as quarterback Adam DiMichele dropped back to pass just five times in the Owls’ first 15 plays.
But after Brown left the game late in the first quarter with a shoulder stinger, the Owls’ rushing game fell apart and the Owls’ started to fade. Coach Al Golden said Brown’s temporary absence took his team out of its rhythm. But it was clear that it was a rhythm the Owls had lacked in their previous five outings.
“The game plan was obviously planned for Timmy. Anybody could see that early in the game,” said Golden, who remains without the benefit of his first career coaching win.
“It’s hard to replicate what he can do.”Sure, Brown wracked up the yardage and the touchdown on that game-opening series, but the offensive line deserved just as much credit.
An undersized line, that which features just one 300-pounder, created gaping holes for Brown to dance between.
On his touchdown scamper, Brown went from the 31-yard-line to the goal line nearly untouched. He did almost the same in picking up eight and 19 yards on his two rushing plays prior.
“We really came out and executed early. We did our thing,” said sophomore center Alex Derenthal.
Much of the same persisted for the Owls’ running game throughout the first half, as Brown and freshman halfback Jason Harper combined for 76 yards on 12 carries heading into the locker rooms.
The Owls may have trailed, 14-10, at the half, but it didn’t seem that way.There were no shades of Temple teams of old. Not until the fourth quarter, at least, which the Owls began with a 21-10 deficit.
Mistakes were made. Many of them, actually,
with each one costly.
In all the Owls committed 10 penalties, and eight of them came in the third quarter and beyond.
Though Golden said moral victories cannot
replace victories on the gridiron, he said he was pleased with his team’s play against a contender for the Mid-American Conference Championship.
“You never expect to be 0-6,” Golden said, “…but you can see how quickly things can turn.”But on Saturday, on one drive, the Owls didn’t make any turns. They were headed in the right direction.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.