The football team met a foe Saturday whose ability to shoot itself in the foot nearly equaled the Owls’.
Temple and visiting Western Michigan combined for eight fumbles, three interceptions, 16 penalties and one missed extra point at Lincoln Financial Field. In between the epidemic errors, the Broncos found a way to score more than the Owls in a 19-16 Temple loss.
The teams were tied at halftime, 16-16, and played to a scoreless stalemate for the first 23 minutes, 57 seconds of the second half. A 33-yard field goal by Nate Meyer broke the tie with three seconds remaining to seal the Broncos’ first win over a Division I-A opponent in two years.
The disappointing part of the loss, strong safety Christian Dunbar said, wasn’t that the Owls were finally in a game after losing to their first three opponents by a combined score of 170-33. Wasting an 18-tackle performance by senior linebacker Manuel Tapia and consistent pressure from the defensive front made the final score difficult to swallow, Dunbar said.
“We were in this game,” Dunbar said. “You want to play well, especially for the D-line. Those guys played their hearts out. We got a lot of turnovers on defense. You can’t really ask much more of those guys.”
The Owls gained possession in position to win three times in the fourth quarter. A possible game-winning drive came up a yard short when junior wide receiver Jamel Harris made a catch and fumbled at the 1 yard line. The Owls began the next two drives at their 42 and 48 yard lines, respectively, but went three-and-out both times.
The final two drives before the Broncos’ field goal ended in punts as well. The Owls attempted 45 rushes compared to 23 passes.
“That’s just something that developed as the game went on,” coach Bobby Wallace said. “We just didn’t have a lot of confidence throwing the football.”
Trouble began right after senior wide receiver Brian Allbrooks’ 56-yard catch-and-run led to a two-yard touchdown run by fullback Josh Bundy to give the Owls their first lead of the season. The Broncos blocked senior kicker Ryan Lux’s extra point attempt, which Broncos’ linebacker Ameer Ismail returned 92 yards for two points. The Owls led, 6-2.
The two teams then embarked on a quest to find out which could inflict the least self-damage. Three plays after cornerback Kennard Banks intercepted McGann, Dunbar forced Broncos quarterback Ryan Cubit to fumble. Senior defensive end Mike Mendenhall recovered at the 10 yard line, and senior running back Umar Ferguson rushed three straight times to reach the endzone and give the Owls a two-score lead. Lux’s extra point made it 13-2.
Other than a 29-yard field goal by Lux, there was not much positive for the Owls from there. Following an eight-yard touchdown pass from Cubit to tight end Joe Gardner on the first play of the second quarter, an illegal substitution and a roughing the passer penalty gave the Owls three penalties just 13:43 into the game. They finished with nine penalties, and have committed 16 in three games since going unpenalized in the season opener.
Ferguson led all rushers with 110 yards and a touchdown. Allbrooks had four catches for 84 yards. For Western Michigan, tight end Tony Scheffler had seven catches for 118 yards. Wide receiver Greg Jennings also had a touchdown catch to make him the school’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions.
Ben Watanabe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.