This entire game can be summed up in two words: Missed opportunities.
Missed opportunities on offense contributed to the big missed opportunity: a chance to go to the Mid-American Conference Championship in Detroit. The Ohio Bobcats have denied the Owls a spot in the MAC Championship by beating them 31-23. And the sad thing is, Temple was the favorite coming into this game and on paper, Ohio isn’t that impressive.
The Bobcats didn’t beat any teams from a Bowl Championship Series conference, they couldn’t hang with a Big Ten team like the Owls did against Penn State back in September, but they could beat the Owls and that’s all that matters.
“They didn’t beat themselves, they ran the ball effectively, they played disciplined football and the made plays when they needed to,” coach Al Golden said. “They made plays and we didn’t. Bottom line, no excuse.”
“There’s nothing difficult about them, they played their best game and we didn’t play up to our best ability,” senior safety Jaiquawn Jarrett added. “We made too many mistakes and their quarterbacks capitalized on it.”
Temple had a rough start with sophomore running back Bernard Pierce opening the game with a 67-yard run on the first play of the game that would have put the Owls at the Ohio 15-yardline, but it got called back on an illegal procedure penalty. On top of that, Pierce left the game with yet another injury and never came back.
“It would have been great to have him for the whole game,” redshirt-sophomore quarterback Mike Gerardi said. “That’s not the way you want to start a game.”
Penalty after penalty would cost the Owls. They had a total of eight penalties to give the Bobcats 68 yards of either offensive aid or by shooting themselves in the foot. Turnovers were also an issue with one lost fumble and Gerardi throwing two interceptions.
“I’m terribly disappointed in the way we played, we just had some really costly penalties, we had some turnovers and I thought we didn’t play as well as I thought we should have.” Golden said.
This game was basically a postseason game in terms of its impact on the Owls’ postseason outlook and for them to come out and play undisciplined football is both surprising and disheartening. It should have been easy to for the team to get motivated and focused for this game, but it just didn’t happen.
“It’s really upsetting to practice as hard as we did and then come out and make the mistakes that we made.” Jarrett said.
The loss is in the books, but on the bright side, the team can still go to a bowl game. And it’s not like the team is in bad shape. I don’t care about Pierce and his injury drama anymore. If he’s available for next week’s game against Miami of Ohio, that would be great, if not, sophomore back Matt Brown has established himself as a competent running back. He pretty much carried the ground game on his own with 78 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground and also contributed 20 receiving yards. And with the other aspects of the team, they’re solid; they just need to be better next week. Gerardi has to cut down the interceptions and the defense needs to revert back to its dominant self.
Even though the Owls lost, there’s no reason to hit the panic button.
“You have to focus on the next team, what can you do? You can’t go back in time, you have to look ahead,” Brown said.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.