The clouds and rain were not the only thing rolling over Lincoln Financial Field in the second half of the contest as the Cougars turned to the rushing attack as their primary source of offense.
Temple University football (3-7, 1-5 The American Athletic Conference) lost to the University of Houston (9-1, 6-0 The American) 37-8 at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday afternoon.
With exactly four minutes left in the third quarter, Cougars’ freshman running back Alton McCaskill took a hand-off from junior quarterback Clayton Tune and found a large gap, sprinting 34 yards for the Cougars’ third touchdown of the game.
McCaskill and junior running back Ta’Zhawn Henry rolled over the Owls for 167 yards on the day and three touchdowns, two of which came in the second half.
. For the fifth game in a row, the Owls gave up more than 190 yards on the ground.
The Cougars outgained the Owls 437 yards to 218, scoring points on six of their 12 drives.
Temple had six drives where they went three-and-out, including three to start off the game. During the first drives, Temple freshman backup quarterback Justin Lynch threw five consecutive passes without a completion.
Lynch started because redshirt-freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis was sidelined with an ankle injury, and threw for 119 yards, rushed for another 78 and threw two of the Owls’ three interceptions.
“I think [Lynch] missed some throws physically and missed some throws mentally,” said head coach Rod Carey.
After news broke this week of redshirt-junior wide receiver Jadan Blue entering the transfer portal, Lynch’s main target was graduate student wide receiver Randle Jones. Jones had five catches for 36 yards in the game.
Temple went scoreless in the first half for the second consecutive week. The Owls have not found any offensive consistency in the past five games, as they’ve been outscored 217-35 in those contests.
The Owls’ only points in the game came on a one-yard touchdown run by redshirt-freshman running back Edward Saydee. Lynch then hit redshirt-junior tight end Darrius Pittman for a two-point conversion.
“Our defense could have won us the game,” Carey said. “Offense didn’t give us a chance today.”
Temple’s defense held the Cougars below their season average of 39.1 points-per-game, but scored below their own average of 18.22 points-per-game. Temple’s secondary was ranked seventh entering the week and only allowed 215 yards passing. But as usual, Temple did not remain disciplined throughout the contest, one of the few flaws that made the scoring deficit as steep as it was.
With 11 minutes and 42 seconds left in the third quarter, Tune found senior tight end Seth Green towards the right hash about 14 yards out. Temple graduate student safety Amir Tyler wrapped Green from behind and began to pull him down. On his way down, Owls’ junior cornerback Keyshawn Paul lowered his shoulder and made hard contact with Green’s head.
Paul’s hit was reviewed and confirmed as targeting, disqualifying him from the game. As the play was under review, Carey stood with his arm around Paul, speaking to him for several minutes.
The Temple players had rallied together this week and conducted a players-only meeting to keep up morale during the season’s final stretch.
“These guys said they’re all in and they’re willing to go there all for these last three games no matter what happens,” said freshman linebacker Kobe Wilson earlier this week.
Henry scored a six-yard touchdown the next play making the score 17-0. Green came back and scored a six-yard touchdown of his own late in the fourth quarter.
Although the Owls are attempting to remain motivated during these final games, it is the few big plays keeping them out of the win column and sending them on a negative trajectory each contest.
Carey standing with Paul on the 20-yard line serves as a metaphor for this game and nearly every game Temple has played this year — they have some of the talent and most of the willpower, they just have not played well enough as a unit.
The Owls face off against the University of Tulsa (3-6, 2-3 The American) at H.A. Chapman Stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Nov. 20.