Temple falls to UCF in offensive shootout

Temple and Central Florida combine for over 1,200 yards of total offense in the Owls 52-40 loss to the Knights in Orlando on Thursday.

Redshirt-sophomore Anthony Russo (left) hands the ball off to junior wide receiver Isaiah Wright in Temple's 24-17 overtime win against Cincinnati on Oct. 20 at Lincoln Financial Field. | GENEVA HEFFERNAN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Despite redshirt-sophomore quarterback Anthony Russo helping the Owls’ offense setting a program record of 670 yards, Temple University (5-4, 4-1 American Athletic Conference) could not knock off nationally ranked Central Florida (8-0, 5-0 The American), falling 52-40 on Thursday night.

UCF, which is No. 12 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, took outright control of first place in The American’s East Division, while Temple fell to second place. The Owls are one win away from becoming bowl eligible heading into their road matchup against Houston, which is No. 17 in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, on Nov. 10.

The Owls’ path to winning the East Division and qualifying for the conference championship became less direct after Thursday’s loss. With three regular-season games remaining for both teams, Temple would have to finish with a better conference record than UCF in order to face the West Division winner in the conference championship on Dec. 1.

Temple held a 34-28 lead heading into halftime against UCF. The Owls only scored six points in the second half and let the game to slip away due to costly injuries and penalties. The Owls committed 14 penalties for 149 yards, both season highs.

With less than three minutes left in the second quarter and Temple leading, 27-21, junior linebacker Shaun Bradley stopped UCF junior quarterback McKenzie Milton on fourth down, but in the process Bradley committed a facemask penalty that gave the Knights a first down.

Two plays later, senior running back Taj McGowan would score one of his two touchdowns to give UCF a 28-27 lead.

The Owls started the fourth quarter at the Knights’ 12-yard line trailing by eight points. Two linemen — freshman Adam Klein and graduate student Jaelin Robinson — committed false start penalties that pushed Temple back to the 22-yard line. Klein’s false start was his third of the game.

After an incomplete pass intended for freshman wide receiver Sean Ryan, redshirt-freshman kicker Will Mobley missed a 40-yard field goal attempt wide left.

Injuries impacted the Owls on Thursday night. Redshirt-sophomore center Matt Hennessy injured his knee in the third quarter and missed the rest of the game. Redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman Vincent Picozzi had to step in at center and play through a left hand injury.

Senior running back Ryquell Armstead re-injured his ankle shortly after the Owls lost their starting center. The injured ankle eventually forced Armstead to miss the majority of the second half. ESPN cameras showed him sitting on the sideline sporting a walking boot on his left ankle.

Regardless, Armstead had a productive day. He rushed 27 times for 142 yards in his first game since Oct. 6 against East Carolina.

On defense, senior safety Delvon Randall injured his knee while making a pass breakup along the sideline late in the third quarter. He left the field twice due to injury but returned both times.

UCF entered the game averaging 537.1 total yards per game, which ranked sixth in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Knights recorded nearly 100 yards more than their average with 632 yards on Thursday.

The Owls couldn’t slow down the Knights rushing attack. Sophomore running back Greg McCrae ran for 188 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Milton rushed for 19 yards and a touchdown and threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns. He returned to the field after missing the Knights’ previous game with an injury.

To keep the game close, Russo and the Owls had to answer a high-powered UCF offense.

Russo threw for 444 yards and four touchdowns, completing 31 of his 52 attempts. Russo recorded 46 yards on 12 rushes and scored a rushing touchdown on a fake field goal attempt in the second quarter.

Russo became the third Temple quarterback to throw for 400 yards or more in a game. He also threw two interceptions. He has thrown 13 touchdown passes to 12 interceptions this season.

Graduate student Ventell Bryant led all receivers with seven receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt-sophomore wideout Branden Mack and junior wide receiver Randle Jones each hauled in a touchdown receptions in the first quarter.

Mack scored from 13 yards out for Temple’s first touchdown. On the Owls’ ensuing drive, Russo delivered a perfect pass down the right sideline to Jones, who outran the UCF defense for a 70-yard score.

The Owls’ next opponent, Houston, (7-1, 4-0 The American) will play Southern Methodist (3-5, 2-2 The American) on Saturday before it takes on Temple.


  1. Although I’m disappointed that Temple didn’t beat UCF last night, I’m very proud of their performance. Temple played a hard fought competitive game against a very accomplished nationally ranked team. Keep your heads up gentlemen, you have a lot to be proud of.

  2. Talk about a not ready for prime time coaching staff. Been watching football for a long time. It’s been said that some schools hire a football coaching staff that learns on the job; this is such a coaching staff. And their arrogance from the very beginning, as if they knew exactly what they were doing is pathetic. This current squad of players, which is made up of mostly Matt Rhule recruits doesn’t deserve such a low rent coaching staff.

    -both Collins and Thacker may be nice guys, but they are learning on the job. At least Matt Rhule was smart enough to have Phil Snow on his staff from the get-go. Matt Rhule had Fran Brown, a terrifically popular coach with a recruiting foot print in New Jersey.

    -Patenaude – where to begin? The reason he’s in the booth now is that he’s poison and probably set Temple recruiting back with his outburst towards HIS starting QB last season. Thought he could save us by turning an already successful offensive scheme that was meant to compliment the talent on the roster into the East Carolina of the Northeast.” Yeah, thanks dipshit. You set us back a year with your arrogance. And when Russo threw that pick in the end zone but they won anyway, Collins tried to cover for Patsy by saying it was a QB option, ostensibly saying it was Russo’s decision. A coward, an arrogant man, and a bad OC.

    -still waiting for that “Mayhem” defense – Anthony Russo is a terrific young QB. As good as PJ Walker was, I think Russo, when it’s all said and done, will go down as Temple’s best ever. Russo will play on Sundays. But in spite of his heroics in the UCF game, the defense got gashed over and over and over again. Good players – guys who will play on Sundays – getting gashed as the result of soft and inexperienced coaching. I feel bad for guys like Roche and Dogbe and Bradley and Russell and Randall, etc, who are getting pedestrian coaching / game planning.

    -who do they think they’re fooling? We saw how a good Coach staff operates under Matt Rhule. These guys are literally learning on the job. They make no bones about it with their decision making (play calling, scheme, game management) game in and game out. There have been a couple of nice wrinkles Collins can call his own like using a lot of his roster / substituting players for a play or two to keep them in the game and throw off the opposing defense / offense. But I’m sorry, he suuucks. And I hear he’d like to go to Maryland. Dude, if you’re reading, sayonara. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. You and that plastic coaching staff you assembled. Again, when Matt Rhule lost he’s D-line coach, he brought in an upgrade and Elijah Robinson who had a tremendous impact on their d-line and coaching / recruiting staff. Collins loses a coach and he brings in someone from the Cast of the Archies and expects us not to notice. Dude, please go. You’re a fake.

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