Owls thwarted by Houston defense

P.J. Walker throws three interceptions in a 31-10 loss.

The Owls lost their second game of the season after a lackluster performance against the University of Houston, a team that scored 31 points on the night and forced four turnovers in their fourth win of the season.

The 31-10 finish featured an anti-climactic performance from an offense that had averaged more than 35 points per game heading into the Friday night competition.

On the road, Walker struggled early, missing on all of his first four passes and throwing an interception which was returned for the first touchdown of the game.

The defense flourished early, weathering the quickness of Houston sophomore quarterback Greg Ward Jr., a dual-threat quarterback with 4.5 40-yard dash speed. The shifty signal-caller found his stride, however, completing 88 percent of his passes and throwing two touchdowns, a far cry from Walker’s 41 percent completion rate and one touchdown pass.

Sophomore running back Jahad Thomas continued to produce, with 49 yards on seven carries and a team-high 150 receiving yards, two of which coming off of screen passes, both resulting in 72-yard gains.

Walker struggled to recover in the second half, accounting for all of the Owls’ turnovers with three interceptions and one fumble occurring inches away from the goal line in the third quarter.

Walker’s seven interceptions through the first six games of the season are one less than his total during his playing time last year, where he participated in nine games and had nearly 100 more attempts than he currently has on the 2014 season.

The Owls’ lone touchdown came on a 39-yard pass to newcomer Keith Kirkwood in the second quarter, a lengthy receiver who was held out of the first four games after transferring from Hawaii.

While the game sat one score away from the Owls at the start of the second half, the Cougars’ third quarter burst pushed the game out of reach for Temple’s offense.

Throwing two touchdowns, Ward Jr. put Houston ahead 31-10, which all-but ended the game.

The defense lost redshirt sophomore starting linebacker Avery Williams early in the first quarter to a knee injury on a field-goal attempt, he did not return to play.

The Owls (4-2, 2-1 The American) will shift their sights on Central Florida (3-2, 1-0 The American) which will be their second road game in as many weeks

EJ Smith can be reached at esmith@temple.edu or on Twitter @ejsmitty17

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