Ryquell Armstead scored on a three-yard run just over seven minutes into the first quarter. His touchdown marked the beginning of a scoring whirlwind for the Owls that lasted throughout the game.
Up four touchdowns at halftime, Temple maintained its pace and won 38-0 on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field. The Owls’ defense was more productive than it was in the team’s 28-13 loss to Army last week, when the Black Knights ran 67 times for 329 yards.
On Saturday, Temple’s defense held Stony Brook to 49 yards on 34 carries. After facing only five pass attempts against Army, Temple’s secondary held Stony Brook to 84 yards passing. Temple also held the Seawolves to 0-for-13 on third downs.
“Just watching film, practicing really hard, we really got after it this week,” redshirt-junior linebacker Stephaun Marshall said. “We just did our process, and we brought it to game day and had success.”
Stony Brook turned the ball over four times on Saturday. Junior Sean Chandler, sophomore Delvon Randall and freshman Benny Walls each had interceptions out of the defensive backfield, and redshirt-freshman linebacker Chappelle Russell forced a fumble.
“Turnovers are everything, turnovers are gold,” Marshall said. “To get some, it’s really good. It helps our team out a lot. It helps our offense out, give [Walker] the ball more and that’s what it’s all about.”
The Owls leaned on their running game to move the offense. More than 170 of the team’s 301 total yards came from running the football.
Armstead ran for 54 yards in his second straight start for senior Jahad Thomas, who was sidelined with a dislocated thumb. Redshirt-sophomore David Hood, sophomore Jager Gardner and freshman Isaiah Wright also saw action.
Armstead started the game’s scoring with 8:54 left in the first quarter. Gardner put the Owls up 21-0 less than one minute into the second quarter with a four-yard touchdown run. Wright ran for 42 yards on seven carries. Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Cortrelle Simpson contributed to the ground attack with two carries for 40 yards.
“We have so much depth in the running back position that everybody can play,” redshirt-junior wide receiver Keith Kirkwood said. “It was a good opportunity for guys to show what they have and just to rotate guys in. When guys are tired, next guy steps up and there’s no difference.”
Senior quarterback Phillip Walker completed 11-of-23 passes for 124 yards passing, three touchdowns and one interception. He went 12-for-26 for 168 yards, three interceptions and no touchdowns against Army. He hit Kirkwood four times for 54 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday.
Walker was again without his full stable of offensive weapons. In addition to Thomas, redshirt-senior tight end Colin Thompson and redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Ventell Bryant both sat with injuries.
In their absence, redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Brodrick Yancy snagged his first career touchdown catch on a 15-yard catch and run. Junior wideout Adonis Jennings also caught four passes for 29 yards.
“This week, we came out, we threw the ball, we took some shots,” Walker said. “Last week was a minor setback of who we are, you know, we weren’t expecting it.”
Less than two weeks after he earned a scholarship, junior punter Alex Starzyk put on a punting display for the Owls. Starzyk punted four times, averaging 47.5 yards per punt. He pinned Stony Brook within its own three-yard line twice.
“I thought the MVP for us tonight was Alex Starzyk,” coach Matt Rhule said. “He put two balls down at the one-yard line. We made a decision as a staff going into this game that we were going to try to play field position defense. See if we can make them make mistakes, get the ball, and then capitalize.”
Next week, the team plays Penn State on the road at Beaver Stadium. Last year, Temple won the matchup against the Nittany Lions 27-10 at Lincoln Financial Field, defeating the Nittany Lions for the first time since 1941.
“We know it’s going to be a very hostile environment,” Chandler said. “We know it’s a good team that we’re going to, but we just will do what we’ve got to do during the week so it will carry on to the field.”
While this isn’t Temple’s first time playing an FCS team, the storyline seems familiar. When the Owls played Delaware State University in 2014, Temple won 59-0, making it Rhule’s first shutout victory. … Redshirt-freshman Kareem Ali suffered an elbow injury in the game, and Rhule said he will probably be out for a while. Rhule also said Bryant’s injury will keep him sidelined for a few weeks.
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CaptainAMAURAca.