SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Moments after the end of Temple’s game against the University of Notre Dame on Saturday, Ventell Bryant tweeted.
“That game was on me,” the redshirt-junior wide receiver wrote.
But Bryant never stepped on the field on Saturday.
He didn’t travel with the rest of the Owls for the team’s 49-16 loss. Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi, who made his first career start, didn’t have his leading returning receiver at his disposal.
Former linebacker Avery Williams had the same sentiments after Temple’s season-opening loss to Army West Point in 2016. Williams was upset that Temple allowed 329 rushing yards to Army’s triple-option offense. Bryant was upset that he couldn’t help his team.
Coach Geoff Collins said the team tried to get Bryant ready to play but knew he wouldn’t be available on Friday. He has been dealing with a hamstring injury intermittently since spring camp.
“That one hurt to watch, but I’ll be ready next week,” Bryant tweeted.
Without Bryant available, Marchi completed passes to nine different receivers and targeted 10. Redshirt-senior wide receiver Keith Kirkwood became Marchi’s most-targeted receiver. He attempted to link with Kirkwood 11 times, connecting on four passes for 60 yards and a touchdown.
After outscoring Temple 21-3 in the first quarter, the Fighting Irish scored their fourth touchdown on their first drive of the second quarter. On the ensuing drive, Marchi rolled to his right and hit Kirkwood for a 17-yard gain on the first play. He threw a 12-yard pass to Kirkwood for Temple’s first touchdown 10 plays later.
Sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Wright led the Owls with four catches for 79 yards, five more than he had in 2016. The most receiving yardage he had in a single game was 30 against Tulane on Nov. 19, 2016.
He took the field after a run by redshirt-junior running back David Hood at the five-minute, 50-second mark of the first quarter. Wright caught a pass and evaded a tackler to gain 10 yards then hauled in a 25-yard reception along the right sideline to get Temple into Notre Dame territory. The drive ended with a 36-yard field goal by senior kicker Austin Jones.
Wright accounted for three of Temple’s eight pass plays of 10 or more yards. He brings energy to the team, Kirkwood said.
“Isaiah Wright is very versatile,” he said.
“He makes plays every single time the ball is in his hand. I think he’s going to be on the field more often now, and I’m excited for it.”
During the drive when Wright had two catches for 35 yards, Marchi took two shots at the end zone. On first-and-10 from Notre Dame’s 25-yard line and third-and-4 from Notre Dame’s 19, Marchi attempted to complete passes to Kirkwood in the back left corner of the end zone. Both fell incomplete.
As they looked to respond to a quick Notre Dame touchdown, the Owls gained 34 yards on seven plays during their first drive of the game. Marchi’s throw on third-and-8 from Notre Dame’s 43-yard line toward redshirt-junior wideout Brodrick Yancy was off target and fell to the turf.
“I missed a couple of throws, some routine throws,” Marchi said. “On offense we did well, defense we did well. I think we have to execute a little more on offense and help the defense out and stay on the field and get them some rest.”
Dropped passes nearly took away any hope Temple had for a comeback early in the fourth quarter. Kirkwood dropped balls on the first and third plays of the frame with the Owls trailing 35-10.
Redshirt-freshman tight end Kenny Yeboah dropped a would-be touchdown while wide open in the end zone four plays later. He dropped to both knees behind the back left corner of the end zone and pounded his fists on the turf.
“It was just the first game, but definitely got to score in the red zone, a lot of missed opportunities,” Kirkwood said. “But I think we did an OK job as an offense for our first time together with a new quarterback, Logan Marchi, I think he did a great job, and I’m just ready to have our group back for next week.”