A constant rain trickled down at Jerry Richardson Stadium Friday night as the Owls came out for their first possession of the second half against the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
With a seven-point lead and slick field conditions, coach Matt Rhule relied on junior running back Jahad Thomas to drive the team down the field.
Thomas, who totaled 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the game, ran the ball eight times for 58 yards on the drive, working the Owls toward the end zone before he took a handoff from the one-yard line in for a touchdown.
Thomas’ touchdown run and the following extra point put the Owls up by 14 and started a stretch of 27 unanswered points for Temple in its 37-3 win against Charlotte. The Owls (4-0, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) are 4-0 for the first time since 1974.
The first half of Friday night’s game was marked by sloppy play from both teams. The squads traded missed field goals before sophomore Austin Jones opened the game’s scoring almost 13 minutes in with a 39-yard field goal.
Quarterback P.J. Walker, who came into the game with a 63.6 completion percentage, completed 6 of his 16 passes for 81 yards in the first half. Several of the incompletions were catchable balls that slipped through Walker’s intended targets’ hands. For the game, Walker was 11 of 23 for 116 yards passing and two touchdowns.
While Charlotte outgained Temple 219-188 in the first half, a 13-play, 74-yard drive for the Owls in the second quarter was the difference between the two teams.
Thomas, who had 99 yards of total offense in the first half, capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, and Temple went into halftime with a 10-3 lead.
Walker threw his first touchdown of the night when he connected with senior wide receiver Robby Anderson for an 11-yard score with 5:52 left in the third quarter. The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native caught three passes for 35 yards and two touchdowns Friday.
Five plays later, junior defensive lineman Sharif Finch blocked Charlotte’s punt, which was returned for a 16-yard touchdown by redshirt-junior defensive back Nate L. Smith—who also had an interception in the fourth quarter—increasing the Owls’ advantage to 27 points.
As the Owls pulled away late in the game Rhule inserted several younger players into the game. Freshman running back Ryquell Armstead rushed 11 times for 43 yards in the contest. Redshirt-freshman quarterback Frank Nutile saw the first playing time his career when he jogged onto the field with 5:11 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Owen McCue can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Owen_McCue