What could go wrong, did go wrong for Temple in the first half did Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Temple (1-1) was defeated 36-27 by the Maryland Terrapins (2-0) largely due to a first half where the Owls saw themselves fall behind by three scores while making an abundance of mental and physical mistakes.
On the first play from scrimmage, senior running back Matt Brown lost a fumble, giving Maryland field position in Temple territory. From there it didn’t get any better for Temple as they racked up more penalty yards (60) than total yards (34) in the first half.
Temple was persistent in trying to run the ball even though they averaged less than two yards per carry. Redshirt-junior quarterback Chris Coyer went 1 for 3 for six yards passing in the first half even though Temple was playing from behind from the 14:30 mark of the second quarter when Maryland freshman quarterback Perry Hills connected with senior tight end Matt Furstenburg for a 22-yard touchdown pass.
Coach Steve Addazio said a lot of things that his team failed to do were what impacted the outcome of the game.
“Give Maryland a lot of credit, I thought they came out and played hard especially in the first half, they played a great first half,” Addazio said. “We turned the ball over four times overall, two snaps over the quarterbacks head, we had three personal foul penalties and we had a field goal blocked, that about tells you the tale right there.”
Temple’s misfortune continued when a shotgun snap in the second quarter sailed over Coyer’s head and fluttered 20 yards into the Temple end zone for a safety. On the contrary for Maryland, on a third and goal from the Temple 11-yard line, freshman quarterback Perry Hills fumbled the snap out of the shotgun, he then proceeded to pick it up and scramble for a touchdown putting the Terrapins up three scores.
The lone bright spot for Temple in the first half was senior placekicker Brandon McManus. McManus connected on a 36-yard field goal and averaged 50.2-yards per punt including a punt that traveled 60 yards pinning Maryland inside their own five. Going into the half it seemed as though the game was going to be a one-sided affair.
Addazio said his halftime message addressed all of the first-half mistakes.
“I said we have to move the ball downfield, we are down too many points, throw it down the field,” Addazio said. “Also, we needed energy and passion; we are the ones that created the adversity.”
The second half looked as if it were a different football team on the field, as Temple swung the momentum back its way. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, senior linebacker Ahkeem Smith forced Maryland freshman running back Wes Brown to fumble, setting the Owls up with field position inside Maryland territory. Sophomore running back Kenny Harper punched in a one-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 16.
Temple had a lot of opportunities to take the lead and narrow the gap but Maryland always had the answer for them. In the middle of the fourth quarter Temple had a chance to put points on the board but McManus’ field goal attempt was blocked by Terrapins’ senior defensive tackle A.J Francis.
“It hurt pretty bad,” Smith said. “[The defense] put the offense in the right position to capitalize and we just couldn’t do it today.”
Maryland converted on seven third down plays including three on their final possession that sealed the game.
“That played a big part today, that was the key right there,” Smith said. “That was our prerogative so we can get the ball back.”
Senior wide receiver C.J. Hammond, whose only catch of the afternoon was a 62-yard touchdown, harped on the team’s first-half troubles.
“This was definitely a game where we thought we came out real sluggish, we had three turnovers in the first half, we had a bunch of penalties and it was hard to come back from that,” Hammond said. “In the second half we came out with an edge, we came out with energy I was pretty proud of my team for how we fought back, we just didn’t finish.”
Addazio saw something positive to take from today’s loss even though his team had trouble in almost all aspects of the game.
“The only positive that I thought came from the game was that I thought our kids battled, they came in at halftime, banded together and I thought they had great energy and passion in the second half,” Addazio said. “As I look at it, there are certainly no silver linings besides a young football team that came back, battled, scratched and juiced together to give us a chance to go win a football game.
The Owls now have an extra week to put today’s loss in the past with a bye week coming up. In two weeks, Temple will head to State College, Pa. to take on in-state rival Penn State.
Anthony Bellino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.