With five minutes and 29 seconds left in the second quarter, Temple University graduate student defensive end Manny Walker intercepted Wagner College freshman quarterback Guenson Alexis, setting the Owls up at the Seahawks’ 20-yard line. Three plays later, Temple redshirt-sophomore running back Kyle Dobbins carried the ball one yard for a touchdown.
Temple football (2-2, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) defeated Wagner College (0-4, 0-2 the Northeastern Conference) 41-7 at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday afternoon.
Temple’s 411 yards of offense is their second highest this season, and their 41-point win is second only to their 45-point performance at the University of Akron on Sept. 11.
“We were successful in winning the game,” said head coach Rod Carey. “It was positive all the way around.”
Dobbins scored three touchdowns throughout the game, the first in his collegiate career. All three came inside the red zone, where Temple’s offensive line opened up many gaps for the 200-pound running back.
Unable to keep the Seahawks off the field, the Owls took the entire first quarter to find their rhythm, but did not look back after they did. Their slow start came from the Seahawks’ time of possession, as they held onto the ball for more than 10 minutes in the quarter, similar to the Owls’ game against Akron.
The Owls had one complete drive in the first quarter — a one-minute-and-30-second three-and-out where they did not gain a single yard — and were shut out heading into the second quarter.
Things turned around quickly, though.
Redshirt-freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis made his first start since suffering an injury in the Owls’ first game at Rutgers University. Freshman quarterback Justin Lynch went 1-1 in Mathis’ absence, but Temple’s dynamic was improved today with Mathis under center.
“Most importantly we got the win,” Mathis said.
Mathis threw for 292 yards with 22 completions and two touchdowns. Showing off his arm strength on several occasions, Mathis threw the first touchdown pass of his Temple career, which went 44 yards to redshirt-sophomore receiver Kadas Reams with five minutes and 12 seconds left in the third quarter. Reams recorded only two catches, but both went for touchdowns.
Graduate student receiver Randle Jones and redshirt-junior receiver Jadan Blue were both inactive for the game, so the Owls looked to redshirt-sophomore receiver Jose Barbon for production through the air. He delivered, securing eight catches on 11 targets for 130 yards, including a deep catch for 46 yards early in the third quarter. Barbon’s receiving yard total today is his career high.
“You really saw [Barbon] step into that number one role,” Carey said.
With several jet sweeps and pitch plays, the Owls used Barbon in a role similar to Jones, leading to large gains and opening up the playbook for more trickery from Carey and co-offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich. Barbon also had 22 yards on the ground.
An earlier deep throw to redshirt-sophomore receiver Amad Anderson Jr. in the second quarter forced a pass interference penalty, setting up Dobbins’ first touchdown of the day several plays later. Anderson Jr., a Purdue University transfer, had five catches for 47 yards today.
On defense, the Owls held Alexis to 36 yards passing and 20 yards on the ground. The Wagner offensive line created holes early on for freshman running back Rickey Spruill, who rushed for 73 yards, including a 50-yard rush in the first quarter that set Alexis up to sneak in the Seahawks’ first and only points of the game.
Spruill entered the game with only 126 yards on the ground, and rushed for 63 yards today in the first quarter alone.
The Owls took over the line of scrimmage after the Seahawks scored. Spruill had 10 yards on the ground throughout the rest of the game.
Owls’ freshman linebacker Kobe Wilson had five total tackles, including one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. Wilson is a part of the five-man linebacker rotation the Owls have utilized so far this season, mixed with nickel and dime packages with several defensive backs.
Walker had seven total tackles to go along with the interception, consistently disrupting Wagner’s offense along with Temple linebackers redshirt-freshman Jordan Magee and graduate student linebacker Will Kwenkeu, who each finished with three tackles.
Wagner head coach Tom Masella put in sophomore quarterback LeShane Taylor in the fourth quarter, hoping to get a spark of offense while letting Alexis rest. The Owls had none of it, though, as freshman defensive tackle Darian Varner recorded a big sack — the first of his career — forcing Wagner out of field goal range with 11 minutes remaining in the quarter.
Temple will face the undefeated University of Memphis (3-0, 0-0 AAC) on Oct. 2 in the Owls’ homecoming game. This game will also be both teams’ AAC openers.
The Tigers, led by senior receiver Calvin Austin III, who is sixth in the country in receiving yards heading into week four, will pose a challenge to the Owls’ defense next week.