Temple football seeks better offensive execution at Buffalo

Temple fell short on third and fourth downs in their win against the University of Maryland.

Redshirt-junior quarterback Anthony Russo throws the ball during Temple’s 20-17 win against the University of Maryland on Sept. 14 at Lincoln Financial Field. | JUSTIN OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University football (2-0, 0-0, The American) did everything they were supposed to do to lose Saturday’s game against the University of Maryland (2-1, 0-0, The Big Ten), coach Rod Carey said. 

The Owls got off to a good start in the first half,  but, despite their 20-17 win, they continuously missed opportunities to make big plays throughout the game. 

Redshirt-junior quarterback Anthony Russo threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Isaiah Wright three minutes and 27 seconds into the game to give the Owls a 7-0 lead. That was the only time the Owls scored in the first half.

Russo admitted the offense missed a lot of chances, but he thought the unit pulled through during the win, he said.

“We missed a lot of opportunities, especially me, on deep balls and stuff like that,” Russo said. “We had a couple of missed opportunities in the run game as well. I think the best thing about our offense is that we clawed, we scratched, we fought, we did everything we had to do to come out with the win at the end of it.”

Russo threw an interception in the second quarter, but the interception was called back because the Terrapins had 12 players on the field.

Russo then threw an interception to Terrapins sophomore linebacker Chance Campbell in the third quarter on a pass intended for Wright.

“[Russo’s] gotta grow,” Carey said. “He’s gotta keep going. There’s a lot you can learn in winning. He’s certainly going to learn from this. He did not play his best game. You just go ahead and build off those things and the decision-making will get better.”

In total,  the Owls had three turnovers, including Russo’s interception. 

Temple’s first turnover came in the first quarter when redshirt-junior cornerback Freddie Johnson touched the ball on a Maryland punt. The Terrapins recovered the ball at the Owls’ 19-yard line. The Terrapins went for it on fourth-and-one, but Terrapins sophomore running back Anthony McFarland, Jr. was tackled behind the line of scrimmage by redshirt-sophomore defensive tackle Ifeanyi Maijeh.

The Owls’ final turnover came in the third quarter on a fumble by redshirt-senior running back Jager Gardner. Gardner fumbled the ball after a 15-yard run to Maryland’s 47-yard line. Terrapins sophomore defensive back Jordan Mosley forced the fumble and senior defensive back Marcus Lewis recovered the ball at the Terrapins’ 26-yard line.

Russo only had a 54.1 percent completion rate against the Terrapins. He was more efficient in Temple’s win against Bucknell University (0-3, 0-0, The Patriot League) on Aug. 31 when he had a 78 percent completion percentage.

The offense should have scored more than 20 points, Russo said. The Owls only converted on 3-of-14 third downs. The Owls also missed out on all three of their fourth down conversions.

“You’re supposed to rise when you’re playing teams like that,” said redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Jadan Blue. “Those are the types of games that you live for. You don’t want to blow teams out. You want to be in those type of games.”

The Owls will look to have fewer turnovers and more conversions in their next game against the University at Buffalo (1-2, 0-0, The MACK) in Buffalo, New York on Saturday. 

The Bulls’ defense has allowed an average of 30 points per game through three games. 

Buffalo was leading 10-7 at halftime against Penn State (3-0, 0-0, The Big Ten) on Sept. 7, but then allowed 38 points in the second half to lose 45-13. 

On Saturday, the Bulls allowed 35 points in a loss to Liberty University.

“We’re going to have to get in there as an offense, watch the film and see those little things that we made mistakes on because this game shouldn’t have been this close,” Russo said. “If we would’ve executed the way we should have and hit the opportunities that we had, I think we would’ve put more points on the board.”

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