Owls’ offense and defense falter against Bulls

Temple University football fell to the University of South Florida 34-14 after struggling to stop the Bulls’ running.

Darian Varner, a freshmen defensive tackle, blocks a player of the opposing team during the Owls' game against Boston College at the Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 18. | AMBER RITSON / TEMPLE NEWS

The University of South Florida fumbled a snap early in the first quarter during an attempted field goal, giving Temple University football the starting momentum it needed, but they couldn’t keep it.

The Owls (3-4,1-2 The American Athletic Conference) suffered a 34-14 loss to the Bulls (2-5,1-2 The American) on Saturday night, marking the Bulls’ first conference win since Oct. 26, 2019.

The fumble was returned by junior cornerback Keyshawn Paul to the Bulls five-yard line, putting the Owls at excellent field position for the start of their first drive. However, an endzone interception on third and 12 by senior cornerback Mehki LaPointe quickly forced possession back over to the Bulls.

At the start of the second quarter, Bulls’ junior running back Jaren Mangham, who recorded 152 rushing yards and two touchdowns, rushed up the middle for a one-yard gain, securing the first touchdown of the game.

“In a game like that, we had to control the ball, and we had to be explosive as well, but we weren’t explosive enough,” said head coach Rod Carey.

Throughout the game, the Owls’ defense struggled to make stops against the Bulls’ ground game, which allowed them to record 421 rushing yards.

Temple totaled just 34 rushing yards and 183 passing yards.

“We only got to run 34 plays,” said redshirt-freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis. “They kinda played keep away the whole night and just ran the ball so it was tough to get into anything.”

A touchdown from Bulls’ junior wide receiver Demarcus Gregory late in the second quarter put the Owls behind by two possessions, a position Temple would find themselves in later in the game.

Trailing by 14 points with four minutes left in the half, graduate student wide receiver Randle Jones put the Owls on the board after a 70-yard reception on a pass from Mathis. It was Jones’ first touchdown since coming back from an ankle injury. 

The Bulls’ offense had no trouble getting around the Owls’ defense, putting up more than 100 yards each quarter and converting on four of their six fourth downs with ease. The Bulls held possession for more than 44 minutes, compared to Temple’s 15.

“A lot of it was, we weren’t getting off on blocks,” Carey said. “ We were playing high at times and certainly threw the kitchen sink at him with everything in our repertoire as far as scheme, but we need to help them more as coaches and we need to play better as players.”

The beginning of the second half showed promise for the Owls after a one-yard touchdown rush right down the middle by redshirt-freshman running back Edward Saydee, cutting Temple’s deficit down to three points. Minutes later, a 52-yard field goal by Bulls’ junior kicker Spencer Shrader, his career-high, cut the Owls’ deficit to six points.

Temple’s first drive of the fourth quarter was cut short after a pass intended for redshirt-junior tight end Darius Pittman was intercepted by senior linebacker Antonio Grier at Temple’s 35-yard line.

The Bulls scored two more touchdowns as the game came to a close. 

Temple’s offense went three-and-out in its second to last drive of the game, ending with a 20-point margin.

Paul suffered an injury late into the second quarter and did not return for the remainder of the game.

“They took it to us tonight and we have to do better as coaches,” Carey said. “We have to do better as players and we gotta get back to work.”

Temple will return home to the Lincoln Financial Field to play the University of Central Florida (4-3,2-2, The American) on Oct. 30 at noon.

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