Temple defense collapses in 47-23 loss to SMU

Temple allowed 37 second half points, including 27 in the fourth quarter.

Redshirt-junior defensive end Arnold Ebiketie and redshirt-sophomore Khris Banks block a player from Southern Methodist University during the Owls' game against the Mustangs at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 7. | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / THE TEMPLE NEWS

It was a tale of two halves on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field, as Temple University Football (1-4, 1-4 American Athletic Conference) fell to Southern Methodist University (7-1, 4-1 The American) by a score of 47-23. 

Before halftime, the Owls’ defense held up strong against one of the nation’s best offenses, which entered the contest averaging 39.5 points per game. SMU only scored 10 points in the first half after a defensive performance from the Owls that was strong enough to help them lead at the half by three points.

Unfortunately for Temple football, the signs of promise in the first 30 minutes were washed away by defensive breakdowns and lackluster offense. The Owls allowed 37 points to SMU in the second half, 27 of those being scored in the fourth quarter alone.

SMU senior quarterback Shane Buechele exploited the Temple defense, recording 355 passing yards and four touchdowns on 35 attempts, averaging more than 10 yards per attempt. 

The Owls allowed Buechele to connect with two different targets for significant yardage. Senior tight end Kylen Granson gashed the Owls for 149 yards on six receptions, one of which ended up in the end zone for a touchdown. 

Buechele also connected with senior wide receiver Tyler Page nine times for 131 yards. Page, who had not scored any touchdowns this season entering the game, scored twice against the Owls.

The Mustangs dominated on the ground, accumulating 194 rushing yards and gaining 6.1 yards per carry. 

Carey attributed Saturday’s performance to a lack of execution by the players who were available to play.

“We just didn’t execute well enough,” Carey said. 

Due to various injuries, COVID-19 protocols and a transfer, the Owls were missing 15 players against the Mustangs. 

Carey acknowledged it’s difficult to win games with a depleted roster, but said it is not an acceptable excuse for Saturday’s performance.

“When you’re down this many guys, you’re going to run out of gas,” Carey said. “But it doesn’t matter.”

Carey’s feelings were echoed in the locker room, where the players were frustrated, but refused to make excuses for the frustrating loss.

“We can’t just depend on excuses,” said Temple graduate student linebacker William Kwenkeu. “I think everyone has that mindset going forward.”

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