MT. PLEASANT, Mich.—It seems like we’ve been down this road before.
Missed opportunities, penalties, dropped passes and careless play headlined a 24-14 loss for the football team to Central Michigan Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Chester Stewart threw three interceptions and sophomore running back Marquise Liverpool lost a fumble as Temple (2-5, 1-3 Mid-American Conference) turned the ball four times and committed five penalties for 31 yards.
“We had three interceptions on the day,” coach Al Golden said. “Those three were killer right there because they give Central [Michigan] a short field…[It’s] disappointing that we got careless with the football.”
The third interception by Stewart, in which he forced the ball into coverage, was especially killer.
One play later, Chippewas senior quarterback Brian Brunner threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Bryan Anderson, which gave the home team a two-possession lead, effectively putting the game away with the production of the Owls’ offense.
“I just tried to direct the receiver open,” Stewart said. “[I] thought I could fit it behind the corner, but he made a good play.”
In all, the Owls’ young signal caller threw for 163 yards on 15-of-32 passing. He also added in 55 yards on 9 carries, including a 22-yard scramble on third-and-long to keep a drive alive.
When asked if he blamed himself for the loss, Stewart paused, then responded.
“I think…yea I would,” he said.
The Owls two scores came in the second quarter, as a 17-yard run by freshman running back Kee-ayre Griffin got the Cherry and White on the scoreboard. Stewart hit senior wide receiver Bruce Francis for a 3-yard strike to even the count at 14, two plays after junior defensive tackle Andre Neblett recovered a fumble on a Central Michigan screen pass that was ruled a lateral.
Chippewas’ junior kicker Andrew Aguila’s 22-yard field goal at the end of the first half gave the Chippewas the lead back, one that they wouldn’t relinquish.
On the defensive front, the Owls were led by junior defensive end Junior Galette, who compiled three sacks and nine total tackles in the effort.
Despite the solid effort from one the top defenses in the country, and the offenses inability to sustain drives, Galette was unwilling to pin the loss on Stewart and Co.
Instead, he said it was on the defense, especially considering MAC player of the year candidate junior quarterback Dan LeFevour didn’t play in the second half.
“Our goal every game is to out play [the other teams’] defense, and we didn’t do that,” Galette said. “That’s why we lost the game, can’t blame anything on the offense…but we didn’t play the other defense, that’s basically what it came down to.”
Paramount to that were Central Michigan’s first two touchdowns, both caught by sophomore wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Redshirt junior kicker Jake Brownell missed a 45-yard field goal in the first half and an extra point a week after winning his job back…Golden said there would be another “kick off” to determine the next games’ kicker…Redshirt senior quarterback Adam DiMichele dressed for the game, but didn’t play. Golden said he doesn’t know yet if he will return for the game against Ohio on Oct. 21…It was the homecoming game for the Chippewas.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at email@example.com.