Akron looms under Friday night lights

The Owls go for their eighth straight win and a 6-0 record in conference against the Akron Zips.

The football gods seemed to be on the side of the Cherry and White Thursday night, as the team survived Miami (Ohio)’s late comeback and won, 34-32, on a field goal with three seconds left. The win increased Temple’s winning streak to seven games and kept the Owls undefeated in the Mid-American Conference.

The Owls play another game under the lights, this time Friday night in Ohio against the Akron Zips. Here are three things to watch for from each team Friday night as the Owls look to keep up their winning ways:

TEMPLE
Making history: Thursday night’s win against Miami (Ohio) means that for the first time in 19 years, the Owls will finish the season with a winning record. Temple won its seventh straight game and improved to 7-2 overall on the season. The Owls look to improve their win total as they wrap up the season with Akron, Kent State and Ohio.

Chester Stewart, Round 2: The redshirt sophomore quarterback replaced redshirt junior starter Vaughn Charlton Thursday night and did what coach Al Golden wants from the quarterback position – manage the clock and avoid turnovers. Stewart did just that, as he threw for 143 yards and committed no turnovers. Stewart threw a couple of nice, deep balls, and his 31-yard pass to sophomore Joe Jones set up the Owls’ last-second win. Stewart starts his second consecutive game under center Friday at Akron against a defense ranked second in the MAC in pass defense.

Turnovers still an issue: Turnovers still appear to be a problem, as the Owls fumbled the ball five times Thursday night. Senior linebacker Alex Joseph fumbled Miami (Ohio)’s kickoff with less than three minutes remaining. Luckily, he recovered it, allowing the Owls to march down the field and win on freshman kicker Brandon McManus’ late field goal. The Owls were fortunate to squeak out a victory last week, but they can’t keep pushing the envelope by turning the ball over so often each game.
Akron

Not so fast: While Temple enters this matchup riding a seven-game winning streak, Akron is the complete opposite. The Zips are looking for just their third win on the season after a 28-20 upset over Kent State Saturday. The Zips, 1-4 in the MAC, have a chance to break even in the conference with remaining games against the Owls, Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan.

Another young gun: After getting shredded for 426 yards by Miami (Ohio) freshman quarterback Zac Dysert, the Owls defense will attempt to contain another freshman arm – Patrick Nicely. Nicely started the previous four games for Akron and has thrown for 1,135 yards and five touchdowns this season. He threw for 261 yards and two touchdowns as the Zips held off Kent State for the upset.

Avoid negative yardage: While the Owls allow the most passing yards in the MAC, they are tied for third in sacks recorded. Akron quarterbacks have been sacked 23 times this season. The Akron offensive line has its hands full this weekend trying to stop sophomore defensive end Adrian Robinson (4.5 sacks) and sophomore defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson (3.5 sacks).

Pete Dorchak can be reached at pdorchak@temple.edu.

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