Armstead carries Temple to road victory against Houston

Senior running back Ryquell Armstead scored a conference-record six touchdowns in Temple’s 59-49 road victory against Houston.

Senior running back Ryquell Armstead carries the ball in Temple's 31-17 win against Tulsa on Sept. 20 at Lincoln Financial Field. On Saturday, Armstead scored a conference-record six touchdowns in Temple's road win against Houston. | GENEVA HEFFERNAN / FILE PHOTO

Temple University is bowl eligible for the fifth straight season.

Temple (6-4, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) won its second road game of the season on Saturday in a 59-49 win against Houston (7-3, 4-2 The American).

For the second straight game, Temple and its opponent combined to score more than 90 points and 1,000 yards of total offense. The Owls scored seven rushing touchdowns on 317 yards, both season-highs.

Senior running back Ryquell Armstead set a single-game conference record with six rushing touchdowns on 30 carries and 210 rushing yards.

On Houston’s first drive, redshirt-freshman cornerback Ty Mason blocked a punt, which gave Temple the ball inside the Cougars 20-yard line. Two plays later, the Owls took the lead one minute, 10 seconds into the game on a six-yard touchdown run by Armstead.

Temple would remain in the lead the rest of the game.

Temple’s offensive line conceded two sacks without its starting center redshirt sophomore Matt Hennessy, who was unable to play due to an unspecified leg injury.

Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Vincent Piccozi moved from right guard to play center, while true freshman Isaac Moore and Adam Klein started at both tackle positions. The Owls conceded two sacks and recorded their highest rushing total of the season.

However, junior defensive lineman Ed Oliver, Houston’s leader in tackles for a loss and NFL draft prospect, did not play because of injury.

Redshirt senior running back Rob Ritrovato recorded his highest rushing total of the season with 91 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.

Defensive lineman Freddie Booth-Lloyd scored his third rushing touchdown of the year on a one-yard carry in the third quarter.

Saturday was the first time since becoming the starter in September redshirt sophomore Anthony Russo did not throw an interception. While he was unable to match his 444-yard passing performance against Central Florida, Russo finished the day with 217 yards on 14-of-22 passing.

With 61 yards on seven receptions, graduate student wide receiver Ventell Bryant became the Temple all-time receiving yards leader. Bryant is two receptions away from becoming the program’s leader in the category.

The Owls had a 21-point lead on three occasions throughout the game. Houston answered to cut Temple’s lead to seven all three times.

Houston recovered an onside kick with eight minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the game down 56-42. Houston’s junior quarterback D’Eriq King would connect on a 12-yard touchdown pass with redshirt freshman wide receiver Bryson Smith to pull the Cougars within one score.

The Owls responded with a game-clinching, nine-play drive, ending with a 41-yard field goal from redshirt-freshman kicker Will Mobley with less than two minutes remaining.

Temple’s defense allowed their opponents to record at least 49 points and 500 total yards in two consecutive games. Houston recorded 322 passing yards and 205 rushing yards.

King scored five passing and one rushing touchdown Saturday. He completed 28-of-46 passes and totaled 125 rushing yards on 19 carries.

Houston was stopped by Temple’s defense twice on fourth-and-goal, once in the first quarter and once in the third. Still, two defensive penalties granted the Cougars another chance at the goal-line. Houston scored two more touchdowns.

In the first quarter, junior linebacker Sam Franklin was called for pass interference. In the third quarter, graduate student safety Rodney Williams held a Houston receiver, giving the Cougars one more fourth-down play.

On Houston’s last offensive drive, Franklin was called for illegal contact to Smith’s head. As a result, Franklin will miss the first half of the Owls next game against South Florida on Nov. 17 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Temple has won four of their last five games while South Florida (7-3, 3-3 The American) is in the midst of a three-game losing streak. The time of the game has yet to be announced.

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