When Tyler Campbell ran in a 12-yard touchdown with 9:38 left in the fourth quarter, a majority of the Temple fans in attendance decided they’d had enough.
Despite the fact that last year’s 10-win team was only trailing by eight points, the body blows from Army’s continuous running attack had worn out not just Temple’s defense, but also its fan base. The once jam packed student section had admitted defeat well before the game was over.
“I hated this,” coach Matt Rhule said. “I’m embarrassed by it. I feel terrible for all the people that came to the game and had to see us play poorly.”
Army ran for 329 yards and four touchdowns to take down Temple 28-13 at Lincoln Financial Field on Friday night.
There were no tricks or surprises to Army’s offensive strategy. The Black Knights ran the ball 67 times, often right up the middle. They only attempted one pass in the second half.
Although the Owls prepared and knew what was coming, they could not stop it.
Whether it was Andy Davidson running up the gut, Jordan Asberry and Darnell Woolfolk taking the ball outside or junior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw keeping it himself, the Owls’ defense had no answer.
“We didn’t come ready for a fight enough,” redshirt-senior defensive lineman Averee Robinson said. “Army came in ready to fight, and we came in like we were entitled and expected to win.”
On a night when he passed Henry Burris to become Temple’s all-time leading passer, senior quarterback Phillip Walker did not have much to celebrate. After connecting on his first six passes, Walker finished 12-of-26 for 168 yards.
Walker threw three interceptions, including one with 3:11 left as his team was trying to overcome an eight-point deficit. He was also sacked four times.
“We were 2-10 at one point so we know what losing feels like and we know winning feels like,” Walker said. “We know what we’ve got to do to get better. We might have needed this game to make us realize what type of team we are.”
Army converted on 7-of-14 third downs and also added two fourth down conversions late in the fourth quarter. Davidson put Army up 14-10 with a three-yard run on third-and-goal with 8:18 left in the third quarter.
The third down conversions led to long drives. Army had three drives of 12 plays or more. Two of them lasted almost seven minutes.
“It’s very tiring,” junior defensive back Sean Chandler said. “When you get tired your eyes get bad … you really don’t do the things you usually do when you’re not tired. That was a big factor.”
Temple’s offense moved the ball early. Walker started the game a perfect 6-of-6 passing before a pass intended for Brodrick Yancy was tipped and intercepted at Army’s 16 yard line.
With senior running back Jahad Thomas out with a hand injury, which Rhule said could sideline him for the next two weeks, the Temple offense featured a heavy dose of sophomore running back Ryquell Armstead to start the game.
He finished with 16 carries for 75 yards and capped off the second drive with a six-yard touchdown run off a toss to the left side to give Temple a 7-0 lead.
Redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Marshall Ellick was quiet after three catches in the first quarter. He finished with four catches for 46 yards.
Redshirt-senior defensive lineman Sharif Finch blocked a punt with 3:37 left in the second quarter. The Owls couldn’t take advantage of the field position and settled for a field goal to go up 10-7. Army outscored Temple 18-3 throughout the rest of the game.
Owen McCue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Owen_McCue