Temple (1-7, 0-4 American Athletic Conference) lost to SMU (3-4, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) 59-49 in Dallas, Texas on Saturday afternoon.
Early in the first quarter, the Mustangs took over on downs after the Owls failed to convert on a 4th-and-2 at the SMU 45-yard-line. On that drive, two medium range passes led the Mustangs into Temple territory. Junior running back Traylon Shead would rush 11 yards for the touchdown, as SMU jumped out to a 7-0 lead.
The Owls responded in their next drive, however. Freshman quarterback P.J. Walker, starting his second game for Temple, completed a pass to junior wide receiver Robbie Anderson for a 42-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7-7.
The next Temple drive would end with a touchdown as well, as Walker gave the ball to junior Jalen Fitzpatrick who completed a pass to Robbie Anderson for 83-yards, giving the Owls a 14-7 lead.
After SMU failed to advance the ball past its own 35-yard line, the Owls found the end zone again. Walker completed an 18-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver John Christopher who made a one-handed, diving catch – extending Temple’s lead to 21-7.
With the Owls’ defense continued to shutdown SMU through the first half, on its next drive Temple scored again. Walker completed an 18-yard pass to a wide-open Ryan Alderman for a touchdown that resulted in a 28-7 Temple lead with 9:18 remaining in the half.
But with less than a minute left in the second quarter, SMU was able to chip away from the Owls’ lead. SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert completed a 19-yard pass to senior wide receiver Keenan Holman for the touchdown, as the score was then 28-14 Temple heading into the half.
A 17-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Der’rikk Thompson shrunk Temple’s lead to 28-21 early in the third quarter. Temple responded on its next drive as freshman running back Zaire Williams rushed 50 yards into the red zone. Walker would carry the ball six-yards on the next play, resulting in a touchdown – extending the Owls’ lead to 35-21.
On SMU’s next drive, Gilbert rushed for 53 yards to the Temple 11-yard-line. A couple plays later, Gilbert ran another 10-yards for the Mustang touchdown – making it a 35-28 Temple lead.
The Temple offense failed to make it past midfield on its next drive, and SMU followed with a 64-yard touchdown pass from Gilbert to senior wide receiver Keenan Holman as the Mustangs tied the game 35-35.
The Owls failed to convert another 4th-and-2, as Kenny Harper lost five-yards rushing. The Mustangs took over on downs at the Temple 28-yard-line as they would score on a two-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Prescott Line that led to a 42-35 SMU lead – the first one it held since early in the first quarter.
Temple responded in its next drive, however, as Walker completed a 49-yard pass to Anderson that led to a 1st-and-Goal opportunity from the SMU 5-yard-line. Two plays later, Walker completed a four-yard pass to Harper for a touchdown. The game was again knotted up, this time at 42-42.
But an 87-yard kickoff return from SMU’s Deion Sanders resulted in a 21-yard field goal from senior Chase Hover that gave SMU a 45-42 lead with 9:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Then, a 5-yard touchdown pass from Gilbert to Holman extended SMU’s lead to 52-42 on its next drive.
With time winding down in the second half, the Owls faced a 4th-and-5 at the SMU 37, but Walker was sacked by Stephon Sanders and fumbled the ball out-of-bounds as SMU took over at its own 47-yard-line.
A 43-yard pass from Gilbert to Thompson led to another scoring opportunity for the Mustangs. They capitalized on it, as Gilbert rushed five-yards for a touchdown that led to a 59-42 SMU lead. A late touchdown by Temple courtesy a two-yard run by Harper was not enough, as SMU won by a final score of 59-49.
Temple collected 593 total offensive yards, while SMU tallied 731 yards – marking the most yards the Owls’ defense has given up in a game all season. Walker finished the game 26 for 37 with 293 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Walker also led the team in rushing with 92-yards. Williams was second on the team in rushing with 73-yards.
Temple will next face Rutgers on Nov. 2 at Noon in Piscataway, N.J.
Avery Maehrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AveryMaehrer.