Playing through the torrential rain and swirling winds of Tropical Storm Hanna, the football team came up short in a 12-9 overtime loss to Connecticut Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
UConn redshirt junior tailback Donald Brown rushed for 220 yards on 36 carries, and senior quarterback Tyler Lorenzen added 77 yards off his own. All told, the Owls front line surrendered 302 yards on the ground to the Huskies attack.
It was total domination for the UConn rushing game against the Temple (1-1) defensive line, something coach Al Golden and his team didn’t shy away from admitting after the game.
“Got to give them credit,” Golden said. “Their game plan was to run. Our defense fought, we really did a good job in the red zone again…[But] Connecticut was just better than us today.”
Senior defensive end Terrance Knighton, who finished with three tackles, echoed the thoughts of his coach.
“They just kept pushing, they kept running the ball,” he said. “They stuck to their plan and they got us at the end. They finished better than us.”
But, much like last season, that finish didn’t come without a little controversy.
During redshirt senior quarterback Adam DiMichele’s 16 yard completion to senior wide receiver Travis Shelton on the opening play of overtime, junior wide receiver Dy’Onne Crudup was flagged for a holding penalty.
Because the holding infraction occurred in the midst of a positive gain for the Owls, the 10-yard penalty would instead result in a first-and-four from the UConn 19, due Shelton being tackled at the Huskies 9-yard line.
But, the chain ganged ruled that the next play would begin with the standard first-and-ten, which made things more difficult for the Owls to advance the ball and changed up their playcalling.
Needless to say, Golden wasn’t very pleased with yet another incorrect ruling going against his team.
“If you’re first-and-four, you guys who go to [Atlantic City] know you’re playing with house money,” the Owls’ third-year coach said. “They said it wrong, they ruled it wrong on the field, and they apologized afterwards…How [the refs] can do that, I don’t know. End of story.”
After the penalty, the Cherry and White attack fell short of the end zone, and instead settled for redshirt junior kicker Jake Brownell’s third field goal of the contest.
Once UConn (2-0) got the ball for their overtime possession, it took Brown just three plays to find the goal line and the win for the Huskies.
Yet, despite the officiating mistakes and the weather eliminating the Owls hopes of capitalizing on their downfield attack, Golden’s squad only has themselves to blame.
Turning the ball over twice, getting flagged eight times for 85 yards, dropping passes, miscues in short yardage situations, missing tackles; all of it combined to cost the Owls a chance to start 2-0 for the first time since 1981.
“We didn’t tackle, we dropped big plays,” Golden said. “We had interceptions. We didn’t tackle well. Our punt coverage wasn’t very good, so that’s it. We did enough to lose this game.”
But for Shelton, who dropped a sure touchdown at the end of the third quarter and whose bobble led to an interception, it was all about moving on to the next play.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” he said. “I make drops, [offensive] lineman miss blocks, a quarterback might miss something, you’ve just go to flip the switch and keep it going.”
That kind of mentality can only help the Owls next week, as the open up their Mid-American Conference schedule on the road against Buffalo.
Temple announced a crowd of 17,194, but due to the inclement weather, it looked like less than half of that showed up…Senior cornerback Evan Cooper, Jr. was taken out in a stretcher in the first half, there was no word on his status…With the loss, the Owls advanced to 0-5 all-time in overtime games…A distraught DiMichele declined comment after the game.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.