D-line answers challenge to take over in win against UMass

Temple sacked redshirt-junior quarterback Andrew Ford nine times in its 29-21 win on Friday at Lincoln Financial Field against the University of Massachusetts.

Sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Wright tries to shake University of Massachusetts junior safety Tyler Hayes during the first half of Temple's 29-21 win on Friday at Lincoln Financial Field. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The University of Massachusetts wouldn’t go away Friday night. No matter how many field goals it missed, or how many times Temple invaded its backfield, UMass stayed within reach of winning the game.

But in the fourth quarter, sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Wright shined those “touchdown-waiting-to-happen” skills wide receivers coach Stan Hixon raved about during preseason camp.

Wright hauled in two of his four receptions on a late fourth-quarter drive, including a one-handed 13-yard catch in the corner of the end zone as the Owls edged the Minutemen, 29-21, at Lincoln Financial Field.

“I’m excited to actually see that catch because, from my point of view, I knew what the play was, I knew what the call was, I knew the read was, but I didn’t have the vantage point to see the great catch,” coach Geoff Collins said.

The Minutemen threatened the Owls in the fourth quarter. Massachusetts capped off an eight-play, 76-yard, two-minute drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by redshirt-junior quarterback Andrew Ford. The score made it a one-possession game. A pass interference penalty on redshirt-junior cornerback Derrek Thomas two plays before the touchdown advanced Massachusetts 11 yards.

Massachusetts regained possession with 26 seconds left in the contest for one last attempt to tie the game from its own 18-yard line. Sophomore running back Nick Orekoya scooped up a fumble and ran for 29 yards before he was taken down by Thomas as the clock expired.

Prior to the final drive, Massachusetts failed to capitalize on a few field goal opportunities. Redshirt-freshman Michael Schreiner missed three field goal attempts, including a 32-yard try in the fourth quarter that could have brought the Minutemen within five points.  

Ford completed 23-of-37 attempts for 377 yards and two touchdowns, but the Owls applied pressure on him from the Minutemen’s second drive of the game forward.

Redshirt-freshman defensive lineman Quincy Roche nabbed Temple’s first sack of the game in the first quarter, while senior defensive lineman Jacob Martin followed his effort two plays later. Temple piled up nine sacks against Massachusetts.

Roche had a team-high three sacks on the night. Redshirt-senior defensive lineman Sharif Finch and sophomore linebacker Sam Franklin each had two. Redshirt-freshman linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley also chipped in with a sack.

“You know, our goals on defense this week were to get after the quarterback,” Martin said. “That was out of the D-ends’ rush and letting the inside guys play some games on the inside. It was just all about taking the next step, the next step. That was our mantra this week. We were challenged early in the week to take over the game and I believe we took the game over tonight.”

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi got the starting nod for the third straight game, but freshman quarterback Todd Centeio made his collegiate debut in the second quarter.

Centeio started a series and was replaced on the final play by Marchi. He passed 2-for-2 for 20 yards, including a rollout to redshirt-junior wideout Marshall Ellick. He also rushed the ball for 10 yards on two carries.

Marchi completed 22-of-37 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns.  

Offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said he doesn’t think Centeio will start a game this season, but he didn’t rule out him seeing on the field more often.

“We had a specific package that we’d been really working on and concentrating on for three weeks,” Collins said. “We felt it was game-ready, and it was. And he popped off some nice runs and some good plays.”

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