Owls escape defeat despite blunders on special teams

Avoidable mistakes nearly caused Temple to lose their second game on Saturday.

Redshirt junior kicker Will Mobley kicks the ball during the Owls' game against the University of South Florida at Lincoln Financial Field on Oct. 17. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple University football entered Saturday’s contest against South Florida expecting to handily notch their first win of the season against a Bulls team coming off three straight losses. Instead, struggles on special teams nearly cost them the game. 

The Owls (1-1, 1-1 The American Athletic Conference) escaped with a close 39-37 win after nearly getting knocked off by the Bulls (1-4, 0-3 The American) at home on Saturday afternoon.  

From the outset, Temple’s lack of preparation was clear: the Owls allowed a 35-yard kick return by redshirt-freshman Leonard Parker on the Bulls’ first scoring possession, which kicked off a 49-yard drive by South Florida resulting in a touchdown.

On the other side of the ball, the Owls only accumulated only 30 yards on kick returns the entire game, whereas the Bulls racked up 131 yards returning kickoffs.

Unfortunately for the Owls, this was just the first of many issues on special teams. 

Late in the second quarter, South Florida scored a touchdown to go ahead 21-17. When they kicked off to the Owls, no Temple player could locate the ball, resulting in the Bulls recovering their own kick with strong field position. 

The issues on special teams continued to pile on. Bulls’ junior linebacker Dwayne Boyles successfully blocked redshirt-junior kicker Will Mobley’s field goal attempt set up by a 50-yard drive on offense, leaving Temple trailing 21-17 at the end of the first half.

Despite their numerous miscues, Temple head football coach Rod Carey was optimistic about how the team rebounded from their mistakes, he said.

“This team hangs in there, and they don’t flinch,” Carey said. “We were a little down at halftime after the blocked field goal and all of those different things, but they hung in there and found a way.”

The Owls’ next contest is Oct. 24, when they visit the Memphis Tigers (1-1, 0-1 The American) at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. 

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