The Owls dominated both sides of the ball in a 42-0 victory.
Sophomore running backs Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown both rushed for more than 100 yards, as the football team relied heavily on the rushing game to defeat Buffalo, 42-0.
The Owls started the game on the right note when freshman defensive back Tomas Cabrera forced a fumble on the opening kickoff, marking the first play of Cabrera’s career. After recovering the ball on Buffalo’s 23-yard line, the Owls would score their first touchdown of the day on a two-yard run from Pierce.
Coming into the game, coach Al Golden said he felt his team was playing too uptight, so a forced fumble on the first play of the game was refreshing.
“We didn’t have fun, and we weren’t enjoying the process,” Golden told reporters after the game. “I thought we got back to basics today. Our kids had fun, we played with energy, we played with passion and we played tough.”
“Our guys were ready to play, and then to get [a forced fumble] and go ahead and run it in was big,” Golden added.
The Owls scored two more touchdowns in the first quarter – one off an additional Pierce touchdown and another off a five-yard touchdown reception by senior wide receiver Mike Campbell.
Pierce rushed 23 times for 106 yards with two touchdowns while Brown, who started in place of Pierce, rushed 20 times for 109 yards. Their performances marked the first time two Temple players each rushed for more than 100 yards since 2004.
Redshirt-junior quarterback Mike Gerardi made his first career start and completed nine-of-15 passing attempts for 131 yards with a career-high three touchdowns. However, Gerardi also threw two interceptions.
Despite the turnovers, Temple’s quarterback played well, Golden said.
“I thought he had some poise,” Golden said. “He’s showing that he has good touch … I was pleased with Michael’s command of the game.”
Junior wide receiver Rod Streater caught two passes, both for touchdowns, including a 42-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter to give Temple a 28-0 lead. Redshirt-junior tight end Evan Rodriguez caught three passes for 41 yards.
Buffalo freshman quarterback Alex Zordich made his first career start for the Bulls, but not without a struggle. Zordich completed 11-of-26 passes for 98 yards and threw three interceptions. Junior wide receiver Terrell Jackson led the Bulls with five catches for 48 yards.
Temple’s defense limited Buffalo to a mere 161 yards, including only 63 yards on the ground. Junior defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson finished the game with two-and-a-half sacks that brought his season total to five-and-a-half. Senior linebacker Elijah Joseph, senior defensive back Jaiquawn Jarrett and sophomore defensive back all had interceptions in the win.
The outcome of the game was the most dominant under Golden. It was the program’s first shutout since 1992 and the largest margin of victory under Golden. The magnitude of the lead afforded the Owls the rare opportunity to play some of their backups.
Redshirt-sophomore running back Ahkeem Smith scored the first touchdown of his career in the fourth quarter. Smith finished with seven carries for 19 yards. Redshirt-freshman quarterback Chris Coyer made his debut under center for the Owls, but did not attempt a pass. Coyer scrambled twice for nine yards.
The Owls return home to play Akron Saturday. The Zips lost, 56-10, to Western Michigan over the weekend and fell to 0-8 on the season. The last time Temple and Akron faced off, Temple won, 56-17. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
Kyle Gauss can be reached at email@example.com.