Owls lose to Golden Hurricane in third conference defeat

Temple Football failed to sustain consistent offensive drives in their 27-16 loss to the University of Tulsa on Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

Temple loses their battle against Tulsa 27-16. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ FOR THE TEMPLE NEWS

With less than two minutes left in the first half, Tulsa redshirt senior quarterback Davis Brin trotted onto the field and coordinated an 11-play, 86-yard drive that was capped off by a three-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior tight end Ethan Hall. The play gave the Golden Hurricane their first lead of the game going into halftime.

The Owls (2-5, 0-3 American Athletic Conference) lost to the Golden Hurricane (3-4, 1-2 AAC) 27-16 on Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field. Temple failed to consistently move the ball through the air and generated just 280 yards of total offense.

“This one burns a little bit because I know the investment our guys have been putting in,” said head coach Stan Drayton. “They came into the week and prepared their tails off and leadership really started emerging and they pushed each other.”

On Tulsa’s opening drive, Brin’s first pass attempt of the game was intercepted by Owls’ redshirt junior outside linebacker Layton Jordan, who returned the ball 35 yards to the endzone, giving the Owls an early lead. The play marked the first time a Temple defender has had two interception returns for a touchdown in a season since Sean Chandler in 2015.

Just two plays later, Brin was intercepted by redshirt freshman cornerback Jalen McMurray, his second in as many pass attempts. The Owls capitalized on the starting field position after graduate student kicker Camden Price converted on a 32-yard field goal to put the Owls up by two possessions early in the first quarter.

“Our plan was to start off fast and get points on the board fast so the offense wouldn’t have to do that much,” Jordan said. “We wanted to get pressure early because [Brin] is a good quarterback and we wanted to get him off his game and try to startle him so we could get the ball back.”

The Golden Hurricane got back into the game when Brin capped off a nine-play, 94-yard drive by finding senior running back Deneric Prince for an 18-yard touchdown, cutting the Owls’ lead to three.

The Owls could not get into a rhythm at any point after jumping out to their initial ten-point lead and relied heavily on running the ball in the second and third quarters to gain yardage. Freshman quarterback E.J. Warner completed 23 of his 47 passes for just 194 yards and an interception.

Despite a lackluster offensive showing, the Owls’ defense kept them in the game. Sophomore defensive lineman Darian Varner finished with 3.5 sacks, while Jordan recorded two. It was the most sacks that Temple has recorded in a game since they had eight in a 30-14 win against Lafayette College on Sept. 10.

“Getting to the quarterback was part of the plan to win today,” Drayton said. “Those sacks we made were tough sacks and we fought hard to get to the quarterback so it’s really good to see those guys bring that back to the table.”

After an 84-yard rushing touchdown by Prince that extended Tulsa’s lead to 14 early in the fourth quarter, Temple responded with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Warner to redshirt junior wide receiver Amad Anderson Jr. for their first offensive touchdown of the game. 

“We had a whole bunch of adversity take place over the course of the game,” Drayton said. “There is no quit in this team and they are showing me over and over that they are willing to go the distance and keep fighting.”

The Owls will look to win their first conference game of the season when they travel to Annapolis, Maryland, to take on the United States Naval Academy (2-4, 2-2 AAC) on Oct. 29 at 3:30 p.m.

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