Temple started its opening drive with a 1-yard run, holding penalty, incomplete pass, 1-yard run and a completed pass eight yards short of the first-down marker.
The Owls’ offense struggled throughout the game in Thursday’s loss to South Florida in Tampa, Florida.
Temple (2-2, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) entered ranked 116th out of 129 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing offense with 94.3 yards per game. The rushing attack continued to struggle against South Florida, ranked 21st in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
The offensive line allowed five sacks, which contributed to a rushing output of negative four yards. Excluding the sack totals, the run game still struggled. Junior running back Ryquell Armstead finished with three yards on 11 carries.
Coach Geoff Collins said on Tuesday a key for his team would be to convert third-down opportunities on offense to keep South Florida off the field. The Owls managed to convert three of their 15 third-down opportunities. They entered the game with a 38 percent conversion rate.
On third-and-12 from their own 35-yard line in the first quarter, the Owls ran a pass play. Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi threw toward sophomore wideout Isaiah Wright, who dropped the ball while open on a seam route.
South Florida junior tight end Elkanah Dillon blocked senior punter Alex Starzyk’s kick on the next play, but a Bulls player touched the ball after it crossed the line of scrimmage. Temple senior defensive lineman Jacob Martin recovered the ball at the Bulls’ 39-yard line to give Temple another chance on offense.
Armstead carried the ball three times for a combined four yards. On the fourth-and-6 play, Marchi received the snap to hold the ball for sophomore kicker Aaron Boumerhi’s 52-yard field goal attempt. He then stood up and scrambled, looking for an open receiver but was sacked.
Martin accounted for Temple’s only touchdown. He sacked Bulls senior quarterback Quinton Flowers with two minutes, six seconds left in the second quarter, forced a fumble and scooped up the ball before returning it 44 yards for a touchdown. Martin’s 44-yard return was three more yards than the 41 the offense generated in the first half.
The Owls will face Houston on Sept. 30 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Cougars have allowed 19 points in their two games.
Offense By the Numbers
9 – Temple ran nine plays in South Florida territory. The first sequence of four plays began when Martin recovered the loose ball after Starzyk’s blocked punt. The Owls advanced as far as South Florida’s 34-yard line before Nutile was sacked and redshirt-junior fullback Rob Ritrovato lost four yards on a run. Temple ran three plays, including a punt, from the 50-yard line in the third quarter.
6 – Temple had six turnovers and seven first downs on Thursday. The team lost two fumbles and threw four interceptions.
3 – Temple used three quarterbacks in Thursday’s loss. Marchi started the game and completed three of 11 attempts for 32 yards and two interceptions in the first half. He finished the game 3-for-13 for 32 yards and three picks and had his streak of more than 100 pass attempts without an interception broken.
Freshman quarterback Todd Centeio led the offense for the first two plays of the second quarter. Senior linebacker Auggie Sanchez and senior defensive end Mike Love sacked him on the first play. Sanchez sacked Centeio for a loss of five yards on the second play. Temple replaced Centeio with Marchi on third-and-22. Centeio didn’t play in the second half.
Redshirt-junior quarterback Frank Nutile entered with 6:55 left in the second quarter. He completed his first attempt to Adonis Jennings. The senior wideout, however, fumbled and gave the ball to South Florida.
During his halftime interview, Collins said Marchi would probably start the third quarter. Nutile led the offense instead. He threw an interception to senior safety Devin Abraham on his second play.
Marchi came out for the first play of Temple’s next drive. A mishandled snap led to a fumble recovered by South Florida. On Temple’s next offensive play, Marchi threw his second interception. Nutile played a majority of the fourth quarter and finished 4-of-12 for 57 yards.
85 – Temple totaled 85 yards on 58 plays. The Owls ran for negative four yards. Ritrovato’s fourth-quarter run of 19 yards was the team’s longest running play.
2014 – Temple scored seven or fewer points in a game for the first time since Nov. 29, 2014 against Cincinnati at Lincoln Financial Field. In pursuit of its sixth win to achieve bowl-eligibility, Temple averaged 2.2 yards per carry.