For nearly 30 minutes, it looked like the football team was finally clicking.
The defense had come up with some big stops, freshman Jason Harper had established a running game and, with one second left in the first half, the offense exited the field following its best drive.Then it all came unraveled.
Kicker Danny Murphy’s 34-yard field goal was blocked and run back for a touchdown, turning a close game into a 17-0 Western Michigan lead at halftime.
The same Owls team that played so well in the first half, did not reappear. The Owls committed three turnovers in the second half and the Broncos took full advantage, walking away with a 41-7 victory at Waldo Field Saturday night. “That was deflating,” Golden said of the blocked field goal. “It took all of my psychology degree to try and get them back at halftime after that routine there. That was the pivotal moment in the game and we have to learn.”
The loss dropped the Owls to 0-4 this season and extended the longest Division I-A losing streak to 16 games.
“We did run the ball better on offense and I thought our kids played hard on defense, but we had too much to overcome,” Golden said. “They had too many takeaways and we just couldn’t keep up with them.”
The offense, which entered the game, ranked 116th in the nation in total offense, continued to struggle despite flashes of kicking its season-long funk. The Owls finished with a season-low 149 yards of total offense, including just nine on the ground.
“We felt good and we had momentum,” Harper said of the offense.
“We had a few little mistakes here and there, and it cost us.”Harper, in his second straight start, rushed for 89 yards on 14 carries and scored the Owls’ first touchdown of the season on an 11-yard carry.
Harper’s success in the ground game was offset by quarterbacks Vaughn Charlton and Adam DiMichele, who combined for a loss of 78 rushing yards. The duo didn’t fare much better in the air, either. T
hey combined for just 140 yards on 12-for-26 passing. They were intercepted three times and fumbled six times, though only one was lost.
The defense again showed it could hold its own against a Mid-American Conference opponent, but was too often handicapped by poor field position.The Broncos began seven drives in Temple territory, including five in the second half and put points on the board on five of these drives.
However, when handed good field position,
the Owls’ defense showed it could handle the Bronco offense, which entered the game ranked 109th – not much better than the Owls’ offense. The Owls yielded only one first down and 28 yards to the Broncos in the first quarter and forced punts on the Broncos’ first five drives of the game. With Western Michigan trying to expand
its 7-0 lead on first-and-goal from the two-yard line, the Owls held strong, forcing the Broncos to settle for a field goal.
On the Broncos first drive of the second
half, Chris Page recovered his own forced fumble. The offense capitalized with Harper’s touchdown, closing the gap to 17-7.From there, the Owls, battling poor field position, surrendered four scores on the Broncos’ final six drives.
Cornerback David Reese said the defense
refused to pass the blame.”We all stick together,” Reese said. “Nobody’s was arguing or pointing fingers. None of that. We’re one family [with] one direction. We’re going in together and coming
The Black Coaches Association awarded
Temple an ‘A’ in its 2006 Football Hiring Report Card, which grades schools with new football coaches on communication, hiring/search committees, candidates interviewed, reasonable time and affirmative action. Out of 10 schools with new coaches, Temple was one of four to receive the top mark. …Western Michigan’s Londen Fryer, who recovered the blocked field goal attempt and ran for a touchdown to end the first half, is the son of former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Irving Fryer.
The Owls travel to Nashville, Tenn. to battle Vanderbilt Saturday at 7 p.m. at Vanderbilt Stadium. The game marks the Owls’ third road contest in a row. Temple has not won an away game since besting Middle Tennessee State 44-36 on Oct. 4, 2003.
The Commodores’ offense ranks 100th in the nation. Quarterback Chris Nickson has thrown for 471 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Linebacker Jonathon Goff leads the Vanderbilt defense, ranked 79th in total defense.
Goff tops the Commodores with 33 tackles and two forced fumbles.
John Kopp can be reached at email@example.com.