ATHENS, OHIO – The streak is over.
After winning three straight games for the first time in 17 years, the Owls couldn’t muster enough offensive firepower to secure a fourth consecutive victory in a 23-7 loss to Ohio at Peden Stadium Friday night.
“Not to say that the whole team was thinking this way, but a lot of people thought that we were just going to come in and really not have to play as hard to win,” junior wide receiver Bruce Francis said. “We got a big wake-up call because Ohio’s a good team.”
With the win, the Bobcats improved to 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the Mid-American Conference.
Making his first start for the Owls (3-6, 3-3 in the MAC) since Oct. 12, 2006, sophomore quarterback Vaughn Charlton had a tough time moving the offense down the field.
Replacing red-shirt junior quarterback Adam DiMichele, who suffered a season-ending comminuted fracture of his left tibia against Miami (Ohio) on Oct. 20, Charlton went 17-for-25 for 161 yards and one touchdown. But the 6-4, 226-pound quarterback was also sacked four times, threw one interception and lost a fumble.
“We were inconsistent today,” Charlton said several times about the Owls offense.
Temple trailed by a field goal at the start of the second half, but the Owls couldn’t find a way to get the ball into the end zone for the remainder of the game.
The Bobcats took a 20-7 lead on a 22-yard touchdown run by freshman Vince Davidson with 43 seconds left in the third quarter. The way the Owls offense performed, a 13-point lead proved to be insurmountable.
In the second half, the Owls lost 25 yards on 11 rushing attempts. Most of that negative yardage came as a result of Charlton getting hit in the backfield. He lost 21 yards on nine carries and the Owls finished the game with only 48 yards on 31 rushing attempts.
“We looked like we were going to have a running game,” coach Al Golden said. “Then they made adjustments.”
On the other side of the field, the Bobcats’ offense wasn’t spectacular, but they were efficient enough to control the tempo of the game.
Bobcats quarterback Theo Scott used his speed and improvisational skills in the pocket to keep the Owls’ defense guessing. He went 7-for-11 for 94 yards during the first half.
When Scott left the game with in the third quarter with a pulled groin, backup quarterback Brad Bower kept the offense moving. The senior signal caller completed 7-of-9 passes for 91 yards.
“We had about eight practices [during the bye week] so we basically prepared for everything they had,” sophomore defensive end Junior Galette said. “They just came out and played harder then us and basically beat us to the punch.”
The first real punch came from Ohio running back Kalvin McRae.
Coming into Friday night’s game, one of the Owls main concerns was how to stop McRae, who had gained over 1,000 yards on the ground in nine games and entered the contest tied for the national lead in rushing touchdowns with 16.
The Owls were able to contain the 5-foot-11, 208-pound running back early in the game, focusing much of their attention on him in the first half. A 47-yard field goal by Bobcats senior kicker Michael Braunstein was the lone score for either team during the first 25 minutes, 40 seconds of the contest.
Then, McRae finally showed why he ranks among the best running backs in the nation.
Late in the second quarter, McRae broke a 30-yard run up the middle to move the ball to the Owls’30-yard line. On the next play, McRae ripped down the sideline and scored on a 30-yard touchdown to give the Bobcats a 10-0 lead with 4:20 left in the first half. McRae’s back-to-back 30-yard gallops made up the bulk of his 92 first half rushing yards.
“From the defensive backs to the defensive line, he just dominated,” Galette said. “He’s a real good back, he’s really strong.”
McRae’s touchdown seemingly awakened a sleeping Owls’ squad which couldn’t advance the ball past the Bobcats’ 30-yard line in the first 25 minutes of the contest.
On 3rd-and-2 at the Bobcats’ 41-yard-line, Charlton drew in the defense with a pump fake and then threw over the top to Bruce Francis for a touchdown. The Owls trailed the Bobcats, 10-7, at halftime.
It was one of very few highlights for the Owls Friday night.
“As I said at the beginning of the week, if you want to win a big game on the road, you’ve got to outwork the home team,” Golden said. “We didn’t do that.”
Tyson McCloud can be reached at Tyson@temple.edu.