BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – No upset this time.
The football team couldn’t repeat the performance that led to last October’s 28-14 win over Bowling Green – Temple’s only victory of the 2006 season.
Three fumbles, including two in the third quarter, contributed to the Owls 48-35 loss to Bowling Green (2-1 overall, 1-0 in the Mid-American Conference) at Doyt L. Perry Stadium Saturday afternoon.
“We spotted them 24 points,” Golden said, referring to a missed field goal attempt on the Owls first possession and the three touchdowns Bowling Green scored off of Temple’s three fumbles.
Four games into the season, the Owls (0-4, 0-2 MAC) still can’t find the winning formula.
And the frustration is starting to show.
“It’s definitely disheartening,” red-shirt junior quarterback Adam DiMichele said.
The Owls were deadlocked with Bowling Green, 21-21, at halftime when things started to unravel.
On 3rd-and-1 at the Temple 30-yard line, Owls senior fullback Josh Bundy was stripped on a rushing attempt by defensive back Kenny Lewis, who scored on a 35-yard uncontested fumble recovery to give the Falcons a 28-21 lead with 13:25 left in the third quarter.
Almost six minutes later, the Owls were backed up against their own goal when DiMichele fumbled after being sacked in the end zone by red-shirt sophomore defensive lineman Jacob Hardwick. Red-shirt freshman defensive lineman Orlando Barrow scooped up the loose ball for a touchdown to increase the Falcons’ lead to 35-21 midway through the third quarter.
“We had a big plan to come out in the second half and really take over,” DiMichele said. “We had a drive [going] and it was one turnover, then my turnover was next and it just sort of went downhill from there.”
The Owls trailed 14-7 in the second quarter, when red-shirt junior Travis Shelton fumbled after failing to shake off several defenders during a kickoff return. The Falcons recovered the ball at the Owls’ 13-yard line.
Golden said Shelton’s fumble was “ridiculous.”
“I don’t know what Travis is doing on that play,” he said. “He made bad decisions a couple of times today and I need to evaluate where he’s at right now as a returner.”
In addition to the turnovers, the Falcons wore down the Owls defense with an efficient air attack. Bowling Green entered Saturday’s game averaging 353.5 passing yards per game, the best average in the MAC.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Sheehan completed 30-of-47 passes for 351 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions against Temple.
Red-shirt sophomore Freddie Barnes and red-shirt junior Corey Partridge were on the receiving end of the majority of Sheehan’s passes. The two wide receivers combined for 15 catches for 167 yards. Barnes hauled in two touchdown receptions.
“They did a good job. Obviously, you’ve got to give them a lot of credit,” Golden said. “But, like I said, we spotted them 24 points.”
The Owls forced two turnovers on the Falcons first two possessions of the game and took a 7-0 lead on lead after tight end Steve Maneri scored on a 21-yard touchdown reception with 3:14 left in the first quarter.
DiMichele, who went 27-for-41 passing for 299 yards and four touchdowns, achieved career-highs in completions, attempts and touchdown passes.
But it wasn’t enough.
After Maneri’s touchdown, the Bowling Green’s offense woke up. The Falcons scored on their next three possessions to take a commanding 21-7 lead with four seconds left in the first quarter.
The Owls managed to tie the game up before halftime, but repeated turnovers proved costly.
“That’s the difference between a good team and a bad team,” sophomore running back Jason Harper said. “We take pride in protecting the ball and we didn’t do a very good job of that today in the second half especially.”
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.