Temple entered Friday’s game winless in conference play and in desperate need of a victory to gain confidence and hopefully build momentum for the rest of the season.
That did not happen.
The Owls (2-6, 0-3 American Athletic Conference) fell to SMU (5-2, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) 55-0 Friday night. It was a tall task, as Temple faced a balanced Southern Methodist team, and that task got even taller pregame when starting quarterback E.J. Warner was ruled out with a concussion for the second straight week.
With the loss, hopes of reaching six wins and qualifying for a bowl game are all but gone.
“Our kids are starting to press and try hard and they’re getting out of position,” said head coach Stan Drayton. “Our best players need to play better. Our single digits are out there missing tackles and that is not supposed to happen.”
Graduate quarterback Quincy Patterson made his second straight start for Temple and after struggling in the loss to North Texas last week, he needed to improve to give Temple a chance at winning.
The offense did not get anything going in the first half, gaining just 87 total yards. Temple finally assembled its first sustained drive midway through the second quarter, working the ball down to the SMU one-yard line courtesy of a couple SMU penalties.
Temple struggled on third down in the loss, going 0-12 on third down conversions. Those struggles showed when they failed to get the ball into the endzone four times from the SMU goal line, with Patterson being sacked on fourth-and-goal for a turnover on downs.
“There was definitely a lack of execution but SMU had a good third down defensive package and were able to get home on the quarterback in those situations,” Drayton said. “But we have to do better on first and second down to prevent those situations and that efficiency took a step back today.”
Temple remained scoreless for the rest of the first half and without Warner, the Owls found themselves in a 24-0 hole entering halftime.
Drayton decided a change was needed to try and spark the offense. To start the third quarter, junior quarterback Forrest Brock took over for Patterson, but the offense remained unable to find momentum.
“We got behind on the scoreboard and Quincy was struggling to complete some passes,” Drayton said. “Forrest had a good week of practice and we were just trying to figure out a way to get something going.”
It was a good start for the defense, which had given up 40 or more points in each of the last four games. Linebacker Diwun Black recovered a fumble on SMU’s first drive and the defense forced a punt on the second.
That success did not last long, as the ensuing three possessions for SMU resulted in touchdowns and Temple finding themselves down 21-0 in the blink of an eye. A field goal with five seconds left in the half pushed it to 24-0. SMU had 337 yards of total offense in the first half, with quarterback Preston Stone passing for 258 yards.
“Tomorrow I feel like we should be out there getting work in and watching film and working on tracking tackles,” said linebacker Jordan Magee. “We just have to be better as a team and not let ourselves get down when things start going down.”
The second half got off to as bad of a start as possible for Temple. The offense went three and out to open the third quarter, and SMU proceeded to return the punt 67 yards for a touchdown to push their lead to 31-0. Another offensive drive stalled out for Temple and SMU easily drove down the field, capped off by a 21-yard touchdown run by Stone to push it to 38-0.
Even the kicking game was unable to find success as kicker Camden Price missed his first field goal attempt of the game from 37 yards away keeping the Owls off the board.
SMU crossed the 40-point mark with a 47-yard field goal from kicker Collin Rogers, making it five straight games the defense has given up 40 or more points. Backup quarterback Kevin Jennings added on for the Mustangs with a touchdown pass to Jordan Hudson to make it 48-0.
SMU dominated Temple in almost every offensive stat imaginable. The Mustangs racked up 563 yards of total offense compared to just 131 for Temple. The Owls once again failed to establish the run game, gaining only 24 yards on the ground.
Temple will look to use its upcoming bye week to get healthy before they return to Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 4 to take on Navy (3-3, 2-2 AAC) as the Owls continue to search for their first conference win.
“We are looking forward to the bye week to try and get healthy and get some key guys back,” Drayton said. “We definitely need this bye week on all fronts.”