STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Despite having an extra week to prepare this time around, Temple’s record against Penn State in football since 1943 is 0-37 and counting.
Penn State outgained Temple by a margin of 491 to 237 yards, including a career high 318 passing yards from Nittany Lions’ senior quarterback Matt McGloin, in its 24-13 win against the Owls on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
Owls’ redshirt-junior quarterback Chris Coyer went 13-for-26 passing with 124 yards and a touchdown in the loss. He led the team in rushing, picking up 84 of the Owls’ 134 yards on the ground. Coyer’s efforts came in a game where he said the offense never developed its rhythm, trailed early on and couldn’t come back.
“We definitely had some struggles,” Coyer said. “I need to throw it better and they need to catch it better. We never really got it going early on.”
The Temple defense couldn’t stop the Penn State passing game early on. McGloin went 9-for-14 passing for 114 yards in the first quarter, including a 41-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Allen Robinson with six seconds left in the quarter to give the Nittany Lions the early lead.
“[McGloin] had a tremendous amount of time back there,” coach Steve Addazio said. “You give a quarterback that amount of time in the pocket, they’re going to make plays.”
On the contrary, the Owls couldn’t get anything going offensively in the early going. The Owls gained 40 yards of total offense in the first quarter and were down in time of possession by a margin of four minutes and 16 seconds to 10:44.
Following the game’s first score, Temple put together a 10-play, 60-yard drive on the ensuing possession to set up a 33-yard field goal by senior placekicker Brandon McManus. On second and goal, Coyer overthrew junior tight end Cody Booth, who was wide open in the end zone, forcing the Owls to settle for the field goal.
“From what I was told, he got hung up a little bit, but I need to give him a better ball to have a chance to make a play,” Coyer said.
Penn State continued to pass on Temple’s secondary in the first half, but Nittany Lion drives of 63 and 30 yards were hampered by an interception and penalties. After driving to Temple’s 10-yard line, McGloin was intercepted by freshman defensive back Tavon Young with 8:19 remaining in the half. On the Nittany Lions’ next possession, back-to-back penalties forced the team to punt.
“They can do anything they want if the quarterback has a lot of time,” Young said. “If they keep running, you have to keep following your man.”
But when given a shortened field at the end of the half, the Penn State offense forced its will on the Temple defense.
Following a McManus’ punt with 1:10 left in the first half, Penn State drove 35 yards in three plays, capped off by a one-yard McGloin run to give the Nittany Lions a two-score lead before the half.
Penn State outgained Temple by a margin of 278 to 96 yards in the first half. McGloin went 16-for-24 passing for 220 yards and a touchdown in the game’s first 30 minutes.
The Owls’ rushed the ball for 52 yards in the first half, 37 of which came from Coyer. Senior running backs Montel Harris and Matt Brown combined to rush 12 times for 33 yards.
“[Harris] had a couple of good runs,” Addazio said. “I think you’ll see him start to shine. It’s a little harder to do against this defense with this young offensive line, so we knew we weren’t going to see much of that today.”
“They’re very strong inside,” Harris said. “They have two great defensive tackles and they fly around and move to the ball really well. That’s the best front we’ve seen so far.”
Penn State’s offensive control of the game continued in the second half, but the Nittany Lions also continued to beat themselves with penalties. Back-to-back illegal procedure calls on Penn State’s first drive forced a punt, but on the team’s next drive, McGloin orchestrated an 11-play, 80-yard drive and ended it with his second rushing touchdown of the day with 4:57 remaining in the third quarter.
“We didn’t make the plays that we had to,” redshirt-freshman linebacker Nate D. Smith said. “Penn State made the plays and that’s why the score is what it is.”
Temple went 45 yards on the ensuing drive to set up another McManus’ field goal, this one from 42 yards out, but failed again to score a touchdown. Coyer went 1-for-5 passing on the drive, but rushed for 28 yards.
With a two-score lead, Penn State was able to control the ball in the fourth quarter and kill the clock. The Owls managed an eight-play, 26-yard drive late in the quarter, but turned the ball over on downs in Penn State territory.
A late field goal by Nittany Lions’ sophomore placekicker Sam Ficken with 2:29 remaining gave Penn State a late three-score lead. Temple came back with a four-play, 65-yard scoring drive, but it was too little, too late. Penn State won the game 24-13.
“We have a young football team right now,” Addazio said. “We have a lot of young players. We just have to learn to make plays in a tough environment on the road.”
The Owls have another week off before facing off against The University of South Florida at home on Oct. 6 in Temple’s first game in the Big East Conference since 2004.
Joey Cranney can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @joey_cranney.