Owls suffer brutal loss to Knights

Temple Football could not keep up with the University of Central Florida’s shifting offense in a 70-13 loss.

Redshirt-junior wide receiver Amad Anderson Jr. after making a catch against Rutgers University on Sept. 17. | ERIKA MONN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Knights senior quarterback John Rhys Plumlee entered the game against the Owls with only 11 total touchdowns on the season. At the end of 60 minutes against Temple, Plumlee had added another seven touchdowns to his season total. 

Temple Football (2-4, 0-2 The American Athletic Conference) was defeated by the University of Central Florida (5-1, 2-0 The American) 70-13 on Thursday night at the FBC Mortgage Stadium in Orlando, Florida. UCF head coach Gus Malzahn’s motion offense dealt Temple’s defense too many looks for the Owls contain past the first quarter. 

Temple true freshman quarterback E.J. Warner began the game with back-to-back drives for scores, passing for 121 yards and one touchdown in the first quarter alone. Temple, coming off of a bye week, only put up three points in their last game against the University of Memphis (4-2, 2-1 The American), but began the game down only 14-10 after 15 minutes. 

Graduate wide receiver Jose Barbon and redshirt-senior wide receiver Adonicas Sanders did all they could to support their quarterback, making contested catches and moving to find openings in the defense on broken-down plays. The Owls’ offensive line did not hold up for long, and Warner faced pressure from the Knights’ defensive line in the second quarter and beyond. 

Once the Knights’ Plumlee found his rhythm under center, UCF took off for three unanswered scores in the second quarter. Knights fifth-year running back Isaiah Bowser rushed for his ninth touchdown on the season while Plumlee found junior wide receiver Kobe Hudson for a 25-yard score before rushing another one of his own. 

UCF has one of the most potent rushing attacks in the country, and it showed throughout the contest. 

Malzahn’s offense had several designed quarterback runs along with spontaneous jet sweeps to catch the Owls’ defense off guard. Temple’s defense was ranked 12th in total defense in the NCAA before this game, giving up an average of only 16.80 points per game. The Knights managed to put up 35 points before halftime. 

A key difference between the two teams was the location of the playmakers for each lineup. Knights senior linebacker Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste, a signal-caller for UCF, finished with four tackles and one tackle for loss. The plays he made off the ball were more impressive, closing any open run gap Temple had throughout the game. 

Redshirt-junior outside linebacker Layton Jordan made plays for the Owls, but the Knights were able to direct their reads away from him. Redshirt-sophomore linebacker Jordan Magee may be a facilitator at middle linebacker for Temple, but Jean-Baptiste’s playmaking ability across the field is missed by the Owls’ defense. 

UCF rushed for 304 total yards against the Temple defense and passed for another 433 yards. Temple gave up an average of 10.7 yards per play throughout the game, showing how a lack of positional discipline leads to breakdowns during the course of all four quarters. 

In the second half, the Knights continued their dominance, scoring another 35 points during the third and fourth quarters. The Knights now have four games with 40-plus points on the season. 

With 10 minutes and 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Plumlee found senior wide receiver Ryan O’Keefe for a 68-yard touchdown. O’Keefe scored two touchdowns within one minute and 20 seconds of each other to kick off the third quarter. On the next drive, Plumlee found Hudson for another 64-yard touchdown. 

Plumlee finished with 373 yards through the air coupled with another 37 yards on the ground. His receivers consistently broke down the Owls’ defensive backs in the second half, and he had the arm strength to find them deep down the field. He was replaced by freshman quarterback Thomas Castellanos early in the fourth quarter. 

One of the only bright spots for the Owls was on special teams, specifically in the kicking department. 

Graduate kicker Camden Price went two-for-two, hitting 26-yard and 49-yard field goals. This was the second consecutive game with a kick of 45-plus yards for Price, who became the starting place kicker two weeks ago to replace sophomore kicker Rory Bell.

The Owls head home to take on the University of Tulsa (2-4, 0-0 The American) on Oct. 21 at Lincoln Financial Field. 

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