Temple football uses big second half to pull away from UConn

The Owls scored 35 points in the second half to win 49-17.

Senior linebacker Sam Franklin runs with the ball after intercepting a pass during the Owls' game against the University of Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 30. | J.P. OAKES / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Senior linebacker Sam Franklin intercepted a pass from Connecticut redshirt-freshman quarterback Steven Krajewski and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. 

This was part of a 35 point outburst by Temple (8-4, 5-3 The American Athletic Conference) in the second half as it won 49-17 against UConn (2-10, 0-8 The AAC) Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Temple scored 42 unanswered points going back to the second quarter when the Huskies led 17-7 in the early stages of the quarter.

Temple let its emotions on senior day get to them at the beginning of the game, which led to its slow start, coach Rod Carey said.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to get back focus,” Carey said. “Our eyes were completely wrong on defense. Offensively, we hit a couple of chunk plays, which was good. We had nothing going on offense too. It was one of those things where once the sweat started got going again, we were okay.”

Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Todd Centeio completed a pass to redshirt-sophomore wide receiver Jadan Blue for a 10-yard touchdown pass with three minutes and 23 seconds remaining in the quarter. The Huskies went into the locker room with a 17-14 lead.

On the opening possession of the second half, redshirt-junior quarterback Anthony Russo completed a 41-yard touchdown pass to redshirt-junior wide receiver Branden Mack. The Owls then took a lead they would not relinquish.

Mack finished the game with 171 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns on only five catches. Mack scored his first touchdown on a 63-yard pass from Russo in the first quarter.

Mack’s two touchdowns gave the Owls’ offense momentum, he said.

“It’s huge,” Mack said. “It gets the offense going. That builds my confidence. That builds Russo’s confidence. That builds the play caller’s confidence.”

Russo finished with 247 passing yards and two touchdowns while completing 14-of-23 passing attempts. Russo also contributed in the running game when he scored from eight yards out in the third quarter to give Temple a 28-17 lead.

Freshman running back Re’Mahn Davis led the Owls with 105 rushing yards on 17 attempts. Davis scored from 55 yards out in the third quarter to give Temple a 34-17 lead.

Redshirt-junior running back Tayvon Ruley also contributed with 74 rushing yards on nine attempts. Ruley scored his first collegiate touchdown on a six-yard run with two minutes and 13 seconds remaining in the game.

“He ran his tail off,” redshirt-junior center Matt Hennessy said. “He ran super hard. It was fun. It was fun to watch him go.”

Redshirt-junior quarterback Todd Centeio ran for 75 yards on six attempts. He also had a 45-yard run in the second quarter, which was the longest run of his career. Centeio also contributed in the passing game with 65 yards on 4-of-6 attempts along with the touchdown.

“[Centeio] was a good spark for us for sure,” Carey said. “It certainly helped get our running game going.”

The Huskies jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. Huskies freshman quarterback Jack Zergiotis found graduate student wide receiver Ardell Brown for a 51-yard touchdown in the game’s opening possession. After a three-and-out by Temple, the Huskies scored on the ensuing possession. Krajewski scored from two yards out to give the Huskies a two-touchdown lead.

After Mack’s first touchdown, Huskies redshirt-freshman kicker Clayton Harris made a 40-yard field goal to give UConn a 17-7 lead. This was the last time the Huskies scored.

The Huskies had 244 yards of offense in the first half compared to just 82 in the second half.

“We started off really slow and got it addressed at halftime,” redshirt-junior defensive end Quincy Roche said. “We came and played the brand of football that we’re used to playing.”

Temple concluded its regular season with its win against UConn. Temple will conclude the season when it plays in its bowl game. The Owls’ bowl matchup will be announced on Dec. 8.

Linebacker Shaun Bradley will be one of the team’s seniors who will be playing in the bowl game, he said.

“Everybody’s different,” Bradley said. “Some people have different ways of going about it, but for me, I want nine wins and I’m not gonna leave the team like that.”

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