Owls lose fifth straight game behind fifth string quarterback

Temple’s offense only recorded 235 total yards and played a wide receiver at quarterback to start the second half.

Freshman quarterback Kamal Gray prepares to throw the ball during the Owls’ game against East Carolina University at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 21. | JEREMY ELVAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

The Owls were scheduled to take the field at noon at home today, but the start of the game was delayed because a Temple player was taken to Main Campus to receive a rapid COVID-19 antigen test. 

This led to five additional players being added to Temple’s contact tracing list, preventing them from playing against the Pirates. 

After the game started an hour later, the Owls (1-6, 1-6 The American Athletic Conference) were quickly outmatched, losing 28-3 to the Pirates (2-6, 2-5, The American). 

The five players taken out of the game were redshirt-junior cornerback Christian Braswell, graduate student cornerback Kimere Brown, redshirt-junior defensive end Arnold Ebiketie, redshirt-junior linebacker George Reid and redshirt-freshman cornerback Nate Wyatt. Braswell, Ebikete and Reid are starters on the Owls’ defense.

Freshman quarterback Matt Duncan was scheduled to start the game but was suspended due to a “violation of team rules” before the game. This forced freshman quarterback Kamal Gray to start the game, making him the fifth different quarterback to play for Temple this season. 

Gray finished the game with 10 completions for 95 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. 

Since Temple’s other four quarterbacks were unavailable due to injury, suspension or COVID-19 protocols, graduate wide receiver Branden Mack served as the team’s backup quarterback. 

Mack played two series as the Owls’ quarterback to start the second half. He completed zero passes on two attempts but ran the ball three times for 16 yards. 

As a whole, Temple’s offense struggled to move the ball. They recorded just 235 total yards, including 140 on the ground. Redshirt-senior running back Tayvon Ruley led the team in rushing with 48 yards. 

Ruley suffered a shoulder injury which prevented him from playing in the second half, said head coach Rod Carey after the game. 

The Owls’ defense played well despite missing multiple starters due to COVID-19 protocols and redshirt-senior safety Amir Tyler due to injury, allowing just 21 points in the first half and creating two turnovers. 

Redshirt-sophomore defensive end Evan Boozer recorded four tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack. He also blocked a field goal attempt in the first quarter. 

Despite the Owls’ effort, the Pirates were able to generate multiple long touchdowns, one of which came in the second quarter when junior quarterback Holton Ahlers threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to a wide open sophomore wide receiver Tyler Snead, making the score 21-3. 

In the third quarter, Ahlers ran the ball for 75 yards after stepping through the middle of the line of scrimmage and running almost untouched into the endzone before he was pushed out at the one yard line. Ahlers would then score later in the drive, increasing ECU’s lead to 28-3. 

Temple’s last game of the season is on Nov. 28 at home against Cincinnati (7-0, 5-0 The American). 

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