The Owls blow fourth quarter lead, as Penn State claims its 36-straight win.
In a game that came down to a fourth and one situation, the Owls, who never trailed leading up to the play, lost their lead near the end of the fourth quarter, as the team fell to Penn State last Saturday 14-10.
The Owls found themselves holding onto a three-point lead during the whole second half. In the fourth quarter, Temple needed to defend Penn State in its own territory two times after turning the ball over by throwing interceptions.
After the first turnover, the Owls caught a break when Nittany Lions’ junior placekicker Evan Lewis missed a 36-yard field goal attempt after the ball hit the right upright. But after the second interception thrown by redshirt-junior quarterback Mike Gerardi, the Owls weren’t as lucky.
With less than nine minutes remaining for Penn State’s offense in the final quarter, sophomore quarterback Rob Bolden was inserted into the game to lead the drive for the first time since being pulled early in the second quarter. The first play from Temple’s 44-yard line was a rush from Penn State’s sophomore running back Silas Redd, who went three yards before running into Owls’ sophomore defensive tackle Shahid Paulhill.
The Owls held Penn State’s running game to a total of 92 yards in the game, which was better than the Nittany Lions’ previous opponent, Alabama, when they rushed for 107 yards against the Crimson Tide. However, Penn State was able to record 216 passing yards by the end of the game to help counter the Owls’ run-defense.
“In some senses the game wasn’t perfect,” Paulhill said. “At the end of the game we didn’t get the ‘W,’ we got the ‘L,’ so we let a couple things slip away. They’re a really good team, I don’t want to take anything away from them.”
In the final drive, Bolden hit junior wide receiver Devon Smith for a 10-yard completion to bring the Nittany Lions down further in Temple’s territory to their 31-yard line. The pass marked Smith’s second reception of the game, as he finished with a total of 11 receiving yards.
Smith’s name was called for the next play, but his rushing attempt was stopped in the backfield by sophomore linebacker Blaze Caponegro for a four-yard loss. Caponegro tied for a team-high of eight total tackles for the defense with redshirt-senior linebacker Stephen Johnson and junior safety Justin Gildea, also registering eight tackles.
Penn State decided to go with three passing plays to move the ball closer to the end zone and all three passes were completed to different receivers. With the ball at the 12-yard line and a first and 10 for Penn State, the Owls’ defense was facing a difficult situation, coach Steve Addazio said.
“Those two turnovers at the end putting them on a short field put our defense in too hard a situation to overcome,” Addazio said. “We’re not interested in close games. There’s no moral victories. There’s nothing.”
The Nittany Lions looked to take advantage of a tired Owls’ defense by using their fullback, junior Brandon Beachum, to move the ball down to the four-yard line. After a fumbled snap by Penn State, which the Nittany Lions recovered, the game came down to a fourth and one play at the three-yard line with about three minutes remaining in the game.
Penn State kept the ball in Beachum’s hands and the 226-pound running back rushed for two yards and a first down at the one-yard line.
“Our defense did an unbelievable job,” senior safety Kevin Kroboth said. “The guys up front and the linebackers, they stopped that run and we did everything we could back in the secondary, they eventually just got through. But we did everything we possibly could.”
The Nittany Lions came out of the huddle with another running play and this time 241-pound junior running back Michael Zordich penetrated the Owls’ defense for a one-yard score. The Owls tried to answer back with a score of their own, down 14-10, but their drive ended at the Penn State 34 after Gerardi was sacked on fourth and 10.
“There’s a lot of great football left to play,” Addazio said. “We got to pull together, come back next week and be ready to win.”
The Owls will be looking to make a turnaround after the loss to Penn State, when they travel to play Maryland at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.