The Owls once again relied on quarterback Devin Scott and an improved passing game to propel the team to its second win of the season, on Saturday night against Bowling Green at Franklin Field.
The 31-14 victory lifts Temple to a 2-1 record this year and give the Owls as many wins at they had in their entire 1999 campaign.
Scott again led the team, throwing for 247 yards on 23-of-33 passing. He has started the season on a high note with 685 passing yards in three games.
In combination with junior transfer quarterback Mike Frost, Scott and Temple have thrown for 774 yards.
Against Bowling Green even Owls punter Garvin Ringwelski got into the passing attack as well. With the Owls running down the clock with a 31-14 lead, Temple faked a punt and Ringwelski threw to Chonn Lacey for a 25-yard play.
“I think the passing game has (come) a long way from last year,” Temple wide receiver Greg Muckerson said. “Last year any team could stop us by running certain coverages…teams could force us into plays we didn’t want to run and there was nothing we could do about it. (This year) the passing game is more precise.”
Through three games last season, Temple only had 456 yards of passing. The team finished the year with 2,250 yards threw the air. This season they’re on pace to topple that mark.
Against Bowling Green, the Owls got things going through the air early. After Temple had a punt partially blocked on their first possession, the defense made a stand on fourth-and-three to get the ball back.
Scott passed and rushed down to the Falcons’ 14-yard line where Tanardo Sharps carried the ball into the end zone to open the day’s scoring.
In the second quarter Scott threw a deep pass to sophomore receiver Sean Dillard. The 45-yard reception, for a touchdown, was the longest pass of the season for Scott, and Dillard’s longest reception of his career.
“They were gambling inside,” coach Bobby Wallace said of the coverage. “We could have thrown that pass all night long; we were just waiting for the right opportunity.”
The two-play drive, which lasted only 15 seconds, gave the Owls a 14-0 lead.
“The deep ball is one of the balls that I like thrown by Devin,” Dillard said. “And when he called the number I just wanted to go up and make a big play for the team.”
Bowling Green missed a field goal and Temple got the ball back on their own 12-yard line. Scott moved the Owls with 79 yards of passing, Jason McKie capped another solid drive, scoring from the three-yard line to give Temple a three-score lead.
In the second half, Temple allowed a 24-yard Bowling Green touchdown pass from quarterback Andy Sahm to tight end Jason Van Dam.
The teams traded punts and then Scott threw an interception to Emmanuel Hendrix. Under some pressure, the Temple defense came up big and got the ball back for its offense once again.
On the next drive the Owls marched down the field and scored on a two-yard pass from Scott to fullback Harold Jackson. Leading 28-7, Temple gave up another touchdown reception but defeated Bowling Green, 31-14.
The Temple defense played very sharp in the victory, they way it has all season long. Coming into the game the Owls were ranked ninth in the nation defensively.
“Our defense needs to carry us,” Wallace said. “We’re still a young offensive team that’s going to make some mistakes. Defensively, they need to step up and carry us.”
Temple’s rushing game was hampered against Bowling Green by injury. Sharps was lost for the game early on with a concussion. He was taken to the hospital for observation.
“In any offense you need a balanced (attack),” Scott said. “You’ve got to be able to run and pass. We can’t be one-dimensional like we were last year. We just have to keep working; this is new to us.
“We’ll keep working, we’ll get better and make strides. We just have to keep rolling.”
Scott’s optimism is not unique among the Temple players and coaches. Expectations are beginning to build in the Owl camp, due in large part to a much-improved offense.
“We’ve got a lot of improvement left, which is exciting,” Muckerson said. “We scored 31 points tonight and our offense is not where it needs to be…so that leaves us with a lot of optimism.
“I think we’re going to be very good.”
Temple returns to Franklin Field this Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. to face Eastern Michigan, then opens its Big East conference schedule with a Thursday night clash with West Virginia.
The Owls will likely play the Mountaineers not only on the turf at Franklin Field, but on national television, thanks to coverage by ESPN.