One week after winning its first game in nearly two years and spending time in the national spotlight, the Temple football team came crashing back down to reality Saturday.
The fall was swift. And hard.
The Owls committed several early miscues and were out muscled and out hustled by Central Michigan, 42-26, in front of 16,091 at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Mid-American Conference East Division-leading Chippewas (5-3 overall, 5-0 in the MAC) racked up 499 of total yards of offense. Chippewas freshman quarterback Dan LeFevour (18-22 with 268 yards and four touchdowns) and sophomore running back Ontario Sneed (10 carries for 148 yards) helped pick apart the Owls defense.
“I’m probably more disappointed about this game then any game this season,” Owls head coach Al Golden said.
“I know it’s a good team … But we’ve got to do better than that. Our kids have got to better than that. They’ve got to step up to the challenge.”
Things started out well for the Owls (1-9) when Temple cornerback Georg Coleman intercepted a pass from LeFevour on the Chippewas third offensive play of the game, and returned it 31 yards to the Central Michigan 13.
The Owls failed to capitalize on the interception, botching a 50-yard field goal attempt with a high snap.
Thanks to that miscue, the Chippewas received the ball on Temple’s 40. The Chippewas then scored on four of their next five possessions, taking a commanding 28-0 lead with 2:44 left in the second quarter.
Golden said the Owls were “outplayed in all three phases” of the game – offense, defense and special teams.
“You can’t make the kind of mistakes that we made and I was embarrassed [with] how we played on defense,” he said.
“I don’t think we were physical. We didn’t lay a hand on the running back. We didn’t get any pressure on the quarterback. We had a chance to make a play early in the game and we didn’t make a play. We ended up going backward.”
Owls quarterback Adam DiMichele said that the team didn’t play with enough energy at the start of the game.
“For some reason – [and] being the quarterback I’ll take some of the blame – we just came out a little too complacent today,” DiMichele said.
“You know it was just a little different early [in the game]. In the second half I thought we played a lot better and competed, but that first half hurt us both offensively and defensively.
“… We just didn’t compete the way we know how to compete,” he said.
The Owls will finish the season on the road, with matchups against Penn State (6-4 overall, 4-3 in the Big Ten Conference) next Saturday and Navy (6-3 overall) on Nov. 18.
Tyson McCloud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.