Owls lose heartbreaker to Houston

Temple Football fell short despite delivering one of their best offensive performances of the season behind freshman quarterback E.J. Warner’s 486 passing yards.

Temple Football redshirt sophomore linebacker Jordan Magee tackles a Lafayette player on Sept. 10. ERIKA MONN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Houston senior quarterback Clayton Tune was coming fresh off of a 527-yard performance where he threw for seven touchdown passes in a 77-63 loss to Southern Methodist University  (6-4, 4-2 The American Athletic Conference) on Nov. 5. 

While he did not reach those numbers against Temple, he still showed why he is one of the American Athletic Conference’s all-time quarterbacks, finding true freshman receiver Matthew Golden for a 44-yard touchdown with 40 seconds left to take the lead late against the Owls.

Temple Football (3-7, 1-5 The American) lost to the University of Houston (6-4, 4-2 The American) 43-36 on Saturday afternoon at TDECU Stadium in Houston, Texas. Temple true freshman quarterback E.J. Warner broke Temple’s single-game passing record with 486 yards through the air in the loss. 

Warner went toe-to-toe with Tune, the AAC’s all-time career passing touchdown leader, on Saturday afternoon. Warner threw three touchdown passes and had completions to seven different receivers. 

Tune threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns in the game, leading Houston to bowl eligibility while Temple will officially miss a bowl game once again this year.

Temple’s Warner was 18 of 23 for 232 yards in the first half alone, including a perfect first touchdown drive where he found five different receivers. The true freshman seems to have found his rhythm late in the season, and Temple offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf’s spacing concepts have built a rapport between Warner with his weapons. 

In the passing game, Temple graduate receiver Jose Barbon had eight catches for 128 yards, while redshirt junior tight end David Martin-Robinson had 10 catches for 114 yards. Redshirt-freshman receiver Zae Baines had a game-leading touchdown with one minute and 22 seconds remaining, but it was not enough. 

Drayton prepared for the game knowing it would take a fast-paced and explosive brand of football to beat the Cougars. 

“They’re going to make plays,” said head coach Stan Drayton in a press conference on Nov. 7. “How often can we disrupt the timing? Can we create third and long situations? Offensively, how do we compliment our defense? Can we control the clock?”

Temple disrupted the backfield on several occasions, including forced fumbles by Temple’s sack leaders entering the game, redshirt junior Layton Jordan and sophomore Darian Varner. Sophomore safety Muheem McCargo had a splash play of his own, intercepting Tune on Houston’s first drive of the game.

Houston most notably went 72 yards in three plays to begin the second half, a testimony to their explosiveness. Redshirt freshman running back Stacy Sneed rushed for a gain of 32 to set up a 23-yard touchdown one minute and 12 seconds into the half. 

On the next drive, the Cougars went 62 yards in 10 plays culminating in another Houston passing touchdown, this one to senior tight end Christian Trahan. 

Houston junior receiver Nathaniel Dell had 98 yards and one touchdown from Tune. Temple did not let Dell use his speed to beat them long, but he made his impact felt underneath, still bringing in 12 catches. 

Temple looks to bounce back as they take on the University of Cincinnati (8-2, 5-1 The American) on Nov. 19 at Lincoln Financial Field. 

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