Minutes before the football team’s game against Kent State Saturday, coach Al Golden temporarily abandoned his football playbook for a guide of another kind – the Bible.
Golden told the Owls that Jesus once asked a lame man if he wanted to walk. The lame man replied ‘Yes’ and Jesus commanded him to walk, and he did.
“So, Coach was trying to let us know, asking us, ‘Do you want to win?'” tailback Tim Brown said. “And everybody was like ‘Yeah,’ so he said, ‘So win then.'”
The Owls came close, taking a few baby steps, but they couldn’t quite stay on their feet. Despite jumping to their first lead of the season and another strong performance from Brown, the Owls dropped their 18th straight game, this one a 28-17 loss to the Golden Flashes at Lincoln Financial Field.
A series of penalties in the second half, a few dropped passes and a stalled offense left the Owls 0-6 on the season, including 0-3 against Mid-American Conference opponents.
“We had a lot of opportunities [Saturday],”
Golden said. “We could have changed the outcome of the game and we didn’t capitalize on them.
“We have to play a little better than that in order to win.”
Behind Brown, the Owls bolted out of the gate, scoring a touchdown within two minutes. Brown rushed the ball for gains of eight, 19 and 31 yards en route to the end zone. His second touchdown of the season marked the first time the Owls had scored before their opponent since Oct. 8, 2005.
“It gave us a real big boost of confidence,”center Alex Derenthal said. “We just didn’t act on it.”
After the three-play, 58 yard drive, the Golden Flashes stifled the Owls’ offense.
Temple managed just 26 more yards of offense on 20 plays in the first half.On its second drive, Kent State rushed down the field with an 11-play, 63-yard drive of its own, scoring on an eight yard rush by quarterback Julian Edelman.
Twice the Owls held the Golden Flashes to third-and-long plays and twice the Golden Flashes overcame them. The Owls kept pace on the ensuing kickoff. Kick returner Chris Page caught the ball at the 16-yard line, hit heavy traffic 24 yards into his return and handed the ball to Jason Harper, who sprinted down the sideline for an additional 39 yards.
Starting their third drive in the red-zone, the Owls scored, but couldn’t fully capitalize. The Golden Flashes halted three straight rushing attempts and Temple settled for a field goal and a 10-7 lead.
Brown suffered a shoulder injury on the drive, which kept him on the sidelines until late in the third quarter. The injury essentially shelved the Owls’ running game.
“It’s hard to replicate what he can do when you practice it all week,” Golden said.
“They’re a little bit different in styles,” Golden continued. “… Timmy’s really shifty and the game plan was designed to use Timmy’s talents.”
With Brown on the sideline and Kent State predicting the run, quarterback Adam DiMichele took charge on the Owls’ next drive. DiMichele completed two passes and Harper rushed for 14 yards on three carries to put the Owls at midfield. On second-and-seven DiMichele fired the ball down the middle to an open Mike Holley, but Holley couldn’t handle it.
Temple receivers dropped several passes throughout the day, but DiMichele refused to pass the blame.
“I’ve had my share of bad passes, so you just shrug them off,” he said. “Those guys work hard everyday, come to work and they’ll make those plays more often than not.”
DiMichele was sacked on the next play and the Owls were forced to punt.
The Golden Flashes ended the half with more than twice the yardage of the Owls, but only clinging to a 14-10 lead.
Just as the Owls’ offense entered the game with momentum, the defense came up big on the Golden Flashes’ first drive of the half. On second-and-27 from the Temple 46, Wilbert Brinson stripped the ball from wideout Darren Rogers’ hands and the Owls came up with the loose ball. But the play was initially ruled an incomplete
Golden challenged and won, sending the defense jumping off the field.
Then the yellow flags started falling.Two delay-of-game calls and a sack forced the Owls to punt on fourth-and-26. Then the defense fell victim, getting called for roughing the passer and a facemask. Kent State took advantage and control of game with a touchdown.
“Some of these penalties are really dumb,” Golden said. “… Penalties cause you to lose and right now we can’t overcome that. Especially on offense, we can’t be in second-and-15 or second-and-20. We just can’t overcome that.”
Down 28-10, the Owls took DiMichele’s lead on perhaps their most efficient drive of the season. Starting at their own 18-yard line, DiMichele completed 6-of-8 passing attempts, capping the drive with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Francis.
The drive took just under two minutes.
DiMichele played the entire game, but Golden would not commit to DiMichele as the starter. DiMichele and freshman Vaughn Charlton
have flip-flopped at the position throughout the season.
“You can’t ever get too comfortable back there, especially with a player like Vaughn,” DiMichele said.
John Kopp can be reached at email@example.com.