East Carolina sophomore quarterback Holton Ahlers found freshman wide receiver C.J. Johnson for a 14-yard touchdown in the Pirates’ first drive of the game.
The Pirates’ first drive, which went 12 plays for 90 yards, was the only drive in which they scored a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Since then, Temple football (4-1, 1-0 The American Athletic Conference) scored 27 points to beat East Carolina (3-3, 0-2 The American) 27-17 on Thursday night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina.
Temple, which played its first conference match, scored all 27 of its points after the first quarter.
After a 29-yard field goal by redshirt-sophomore kicker Will Mobley in the second quarter, redshirt-senior running back Jager Gardner scored on a nine-yard touchdown run to give the Owls a 10-7 lead. Ever since Gardner’s touchdown, the Owls did not look back.
The running game was efficient once again. Freshman running back Re’Mahn Davis and Gardner combined for 217 rushing yards and two scores. Davis led the team in rushing yards with 157, while Gardner added 60.
Redshirt-junior quarterback Anthony Russo was more efficient in Thursday’s game, completing 23-of-34 passes and finishing with a 67.6 percent completion percentage. Russo finished with 208 passing yards and one touchdown to senior Isaiah Wright.
Russo’s only turnover of the game came in the third quarter when he was strip-sacked by Pirates senior defensive lineman Kendall Futrell.
In Temple’s win against Georgia Tech, Russo only completed 40.9 percent of his passes and finished with 127 passing yards and an interception.
Two of the Owls’ wide receivers eclipsed 100 receiving yards against the Pirates. Redshirt-junior Branden Mack had nine catches and led the team with 109 yards. Wright finished with nine catches for 104 yards.
Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Todd Centeio also received playing time. Centeio completed four of his five pass attempts for 45 yards. Centeio also gained 23 rushing yards on nine attempts.
After their first drive, the Pirates only scored 10 points. Junior kicker Jake Verity converted a 39-yard attempt in the second quarter. Ahlers then found Johnson again for a 10-yard touchdown with 29 seconds left in the game. Ahlers finished with 229 passing yards, while Johnson was the Pirates’ top receiver with eight catches for 100 yards.
The Owls will be back home for their next game against Memphis (4-0, 1-0 The AAC) on Oct. 12 at 12 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field.