With one minute and 54 seconds left in the second quarter, true freshman quarterback E.J. Warner found redshirt-freshman wide receiver Ian Stewart in the back corner of the endzone, giving Temple their only points of the half. Warner, who faced lots of pressure for half of the game from Minutemen defensive linemen, capped off a nine-play 69 yard drive with the touchdown pass, his fourth of the season.
Temple University football (1-2, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) defeated the University of Massachusetts (1-2, 0-0 Independents) 28-0 on Sept. 24 at Lincoln Financial Field. The Owls began the game in a stalemate throughout the first quarter, but eventually found momentum with a 27-yard completion from Warner to redshirt-senior wide receiver Adonicas Sanders on third and 14 to set up the initial score.
“Despite all the turnovers and ups and downs, they found a way to put it all together” said head coach Stan Drayton. “But we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Warner wasn’t in rhythm during the first quarter, completing only two of seven passes with an interception. But as the game progressed, he began to find open receivers and finished the game with 173 yards on a 50 percent completion rate and two touchdowns. The true freshman has thrown for a touchdown in each of the three games he has played so far this season.
The Owls stifled the Minutemens’ ground attack, only allowing 179 yards in the run game for the game. UMass entered the contest having rushed for 613 yards across three games, but finished today with 25 yards fewer than their 204.33 yards-per game average.
“Communication is the key,” said redshirt-sophomore linebacker Jordan Magee. “I wanted to set the tone for the team.”
Redshirt-junior outside linebacker Layton Jordan, who is ranked fourth in the nation in sacks, was able to disrupt many Minutemen plays, even making a one-handed grab for a 41-yard pick-six with six minutes and 25 seconds left in the third quarter.
UMass was able to keep Temple’s offense off the field for more than 15 minutes the first half, allowing for the Minutemen to establish a ground game. Their rushing attack forced Temple to stack several linebackers in the box, so when the UMass rushers got outside of the tackles they ran for several first downs on the Owls.
However, when UMass redshirt-junior quarterback Gino Campiotti was forced to pass in long-yardage situations, the Owls capitalized and forced seven incompletions and one turnover from the quarterback.
Two minutes and 34 seconds into the second quarter, Campiotti forced a throw into tight coverage and Owls sophomore safety Alex Odom picked off. This was Temple’s first forced turnover on the season and Odom’s first career interception.
Temple had positive and negative splash plays this game, as fluke mistakes led to UMass possessions. Warner threw two interceptions in the first half on two bad throws with safer options open and has now thrown three interceptions across the past two games.
The Minutemens’ defensive line sent many different blitz packages Warner’s way, but he eventually adapted and began to release the ball faster in the second quarter.
Temple redshirt-junior tight end David Martin-Robinson got his first snaps of the season, making three receptions for 54 yards in his return from a shoulder injury. Sanders was the main target for Warner, finishing with 101 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown 31 seconds into the fourth quarter.
“Any time you get an explosive play, it helps get the team going,” Warner said. “Whenever I’m out there my mindset is to make plays.”
The biggest surprise for the Owls coming out of halftime was Drayton implementing redshirt-junior quarterback Quincy Patterson in the read-option game. He alternated snaps with Warner on a 10-play 80 yard drive in which Patterson carried the ball for a two-yard touchdown.
“We found a way to get Quincy in the game and be productive,” Drayton said. “Today, it was exactly what we needed to do to get the ball moving.”
Temple made special teams a focus under special teams coordinator Adam Scheier, but they did not look like the better transition team on the field. A second quarter UMass punt saw the ball bounce off the backside of Stewart, giving the Minutemen a recovery in Temple territory.
Temple’s defense continued their consistent play, giving up only 259 total yards on the game. The Owls have only allowed four touchdowns from opposing offenses through all four games.
The Owls managed to bounce back after their 16-14 loss to Rutgers University on Sept. 17 and will head to Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium to begin conference play against the University of Memphis (2-1, 1-0 The American) on Oct. 1.
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