Despite holding a 13-9 lead at halftime, Penn State would score 16 unanswered points to come back and defeat the Owls 22-13.
The Owls had the Penn State on the ropes, but just couldn’t quite finish off the Nittany Lions. After going into halftime with a 13-9 lead, Penn State would score 13 unanswered points to hand the Owls a 22-13 loss.
“That was a good, physical football game,” coach Al Golden said. “You have to give those kids from Penn State a lot of credit, they played really hard and they were physical. They made more plays than we did in the end.”
“It hurts real bad, I feel that we really could have won, but this is football and it doesn’t matter if you think you can win.” Junior defensive end Adrian Robinson said.
It did seem like the Owls could have won this game based their defensive play. Despite allowing 216 total rushing yards and 223 passing yards, the team did not allow a touchdown until Penn State running back Michael Zordich scored on a 1 yard run with six minutes to go in to the fourth quarter to clinch the win for the Nittany Lions. Prior to the touchdown, Penn State got all of their points from five field goals from senior placekicker Collin Wagner.
The Owls offense had one good half as they benefited from a healthy sophomore running back Bernard Pierce and a few big plays on both sides of the ball.
In the first quarter, Robinson recovered a fumble from Penn State senior running back Evan Royster to put the Owls at the opposing 28 yard line. After an offsides penalty on Penn State all it took was two plays to find the endzone. Sophomore back Matt Brown would have a 18 yard carry to bring the Owls to the 5 yardline and Pierce would find the endzone on the next play.
The second touchdown was also a result of good field position thanks to a 51 yard reverse from the multi-purpose junior, James Nixon, that put the Owls at the Penn State 4 yardline near the end of the first quarter. Pierce would find the endzone again two plays later to give the Owls a 13-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Owls only came away with six points as a result of a incomplete pass from redshirt-senior tight end Vaughn Charlton. Those 13 points gave the team the lead all the way until the third quarter.
“We thought we would be able to get to the half, generally, that’s one of the keys to playing up here.” Golden said. “Most teams that lose end up getting blown out because they can’t make it to the half. Last year we were down 3-0 after the first quarter and ended up being down, 21-3 at the half. By then it’s over.”
The Owls held the Nittany Lions for a while, but the team would not score again for the rest of the game.
Despite everything the defense did to keep the score of the game low, the offense could not move up the field and struggled in the passing game as redshirt-junior quarterback finished the game completing only eight passing attempts for 46 yards and had three interceptions. It also did not help the Pierce would suffer an injury and left the game with seven minutes to go in the third quarter.
“We just didn’t make any big plays, we have to make some bigger plays.” Golden said. “Those third and tens and third and elevens, you’re going against more than the eleven guys on the field at that point. I’m sure that there are some throws that he would like back. “
“We played hard but we left a lot of plays on the field as an offense,” Stewart added. “Obviously you can’t win when you turn the ball over that much.”
Despite this being on of the closer Temple versus Penn State matchups, Golden is not content with the team’s performance.
“There’s no moral victories anymore, I think we have a chance to be a good team.” Golden said. “We came up here with the intent to win, I don’t know if anybody else thought that coming into it, but I know that the 105 [players] and the 12 or so coaches came up here with the intent to win. We really believed we were going to win.
“We’re really disappointed and hopefully we have 10 games left, that’s how we look at it.” Golden added.
Up next the Owls go on the road to face Army at West Point on Oct. 2. Gametime is at noon.
Brian Dzenis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.