WEST POINT, N.Y. – For the second consecutive week, Temple found itself tied with its opponent at halftime.
And for the second consecutive week, it all came apart for the Owls in the second half.
The Owls dropped a sloppy, turnover-filled game to Army, 37-21, in front of 34,176 at Michie Stadium Saturday.
Three fumbles and two interceptions doomed the Owls (0-5, 0-2 MAC). Ten penalties also contributed to the loss.
“When you turn the ball over, you have penalties that take points off the board and you play like crap on special teams, you’re going to lose,” coach Al Golden said. “That is compounded when you’re on the road.
“It’s not a real good effort.”
Tied with Army (2-3 overall), 21-21, at halftime, the Owls were in the exact same situation against Bowling Green last week. In that game, the Falcons capitalized on a pair of crucial third quarter fumbles and outscored Temple, 27-14, in the second half on their way to a 48-35 win.
It was a case of déjà vu for the Owls Saturday.
Same halftime score.
Same self-inflicted errors.
“It’s obviously frustrating,” said red-shirt junior quarterback Adam DiMichele, who went 15-for-24 for 175 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. “We continue to turn the ball over and put our defense in a bad position.”
Against the Black Knights, the Owls displayed the same type of inconsistency that’s been a trademark of their season so far.
The offense, in particular, was up-and-down throughout the game.
With the Owls trailing, 24-21, DiMichele was inadvertently knocked down by his own teammate on third-and-five at the Army 43-yard line. DiMichele, who was rolling out to his right, evaded sophomore defensive tackle Ted Bentler but ended up getting hit by freshman right guard Derek Dennis, who was unaware of where his quarterback was on the field.
On the next play, Black Knights senior wide receiver Jeremy Trimble scored on an 85-yard punt return to give Army a 31-21 lead with 18 seconds left in the third quarter. The Black Knights special teams unit scored earlier in the game when senior wide receiver Corey Anderson returned the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, 17 seconds into the first quarter.
“They just out-executed us,” said junior defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, who had six tackles, a sack and a field goal block. “They made plays on special teams. Coach is always preaching that special teams are a very important [part] of the game and, obviously, a couple of guys didn’t believe it.”
Special teams weren’t the only problem, though. Three fumbles added to the Owls’ futility. Temple also fumbled the ball three times against Bowling Green last week.
Sophomore wide receiver Dy’Onne Crudup coughed up a four-yard pass reception as the Owls were driving down the field at the start of the fourth quarter. The Black Knights recovered the ball on their own 18-yard line and took a 37-21 lead when sophomore quarterback Carson Williams hooked-up with Trimble, who caught five passes for 125 yards, on a 69-yard touchdown reception with 11:51 left in the fourth quarter.
Like Crudup, sophomore running back Jason Harper also had trouble keeping the ball in his hands.
Harper, who ran for 71 yards on 23 attempts, fumbled the ball twice. His first fumble was recovered in the end zone by senior free safety Jordan Murray to give Army a 14-7 lead with 8:46 left in the second quarter.
“It’s just a disaster,” Golden said about the team’s performance.
But, despite a 0-5 record, Golden said he still has a positive outlook on the rest of the season.
“Am I disappointed? Yeah, but I’m not going to get discouraged,” Golden said. “I just left a locker room with every guy that’s coming back [next year] … How can I get discouraged?”
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.