The Owls are now one win away from heading to back-to-back American Athletic Conference Championship games.
Temple’s defense pitched its second straight shutout and redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Ventell Bryant helped the Owls pick up their fifth win a row with a 31-0 victory against Tulane on Saturday at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans.
Temple (8-3, 6-1 American Athletic Conference) can clinch the East Division with a win next week at home against East Carolina.
With their ground game bottled up early, the Owls went away from the run and decided to stretch the field. The result was a huge game for Bryant, who caught nine passes for 168 yards and a touchdown.
Bryant leaped to catch a goal-line fade with six minutes, three seconds left in the third quarter to give Temple a 17-point lead. He had three other catches on the drive to get Temple into the red zone.
Senior running back Jahad Thomas took a screen pass 42 yards to the end zone on the Owls’ next drive to put Temple up 24-0 and score his second touchdown of the day. It was his eighth game with two touchdowns this season. With sophomore running back Ryquell Armstead sidelined with an injury, Thomas contributed in the running and passing attack. Thomas finished with 54 receiving yards and 57 on the ground.
He scored his first touchdown on the Owls’ second drive of the game on a 2-yard run. Bryant caught a 31-yard pass on the first play of the drive to set up Thomas’ score three plays later. Thomas now has 10 rushing touchdowns and six receiving touchdowns on the year.
Temple’s defense pitched a shutout for the second game in a row. The Owls haven’t given up a point in the last 10 quarters of play. Although he was unsure if he would play earlier in the week, redshirt-senior linebacker Haason Reddick totaled five tackles, including two tackles for loss, and forced a fumble in the first quarter that set up the Owls’ first touchdown. Reddick became The American’s all-time single-season leader in tackles for loss after Saturday’s performance.
The Owls ran for 190 yards in their four wins leading up to Saturday’s game. It took a while to get going, but the Owls finished with 196 yards rushing against Tulane.
Helped by Bryant’s big day, the passing game also shined. Senior quarterback Phillip Walker finished 18 of 33 for 337 yards and two touchdowns. He also took care of the ball and didn’t throw any interceptions for the fourth time this season.
Freshman running back and wide receiver Isaiah Wright finished with 78 yards on three total touches. He scored his first career touchdown on a 26-yard run with 6:08 left in the game.
Owen McCue and Evan Easterling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.