Temple football’s defense dominant in 49-6 win

The Owls held East Carolina to only 196 yards of offense on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Senior cornerback Rock Ya-Sin (right) breaks up a potential touchdown while covering ECU wide receiver Trevon Brown in Temple's 49-6 win on Oct. 6, 2018 | GENEVA HEFFERNAN / FILE PHOTO

Despite defeating East Carolina 49-6, one play will keep coach Geoff Collins up at night.

Pirates’ freshman quarterback Holton Ahlers kept the ball to himself and ran for 53 yards with just under 14 minutes left in the game. Ahlers’ run was the biggest offensive play for the Pirates all day.

“We had a blitz dialed up and we misfit it,” Collins said. “The series before, the exact play was a three-yard tackle-for-loss. We didn’t fit it quite right. [Ahlers] is a really good athlete and he was able to get a good gain. We’ll get that corrected.”

Before Ahlers’ run, Temple’s defense allowed 16 rushing yards and held the Pirates to 0.7 yards per carry.

Ahlers’ run was the only blemish in a dominant performance for Temple (3-3, 2-0 American Athletic Conference). The Owls held ECU (2-3, 0-2 The American) to just 196 yards of total offense on 67 plays. The Pirates’ three quarterbacks — Ahlers, sophomore Reid Herring, and redshirt-freshman Kingsley Ifedi, threw for 120 yards.

“Our interior guys were dominant today,” defensive coordinator Andrew Thacker said. “We moved quite a bit in the interior, so I think that helped us. We created some [tackles for losses], but the defensive tackles always set the tone with that.  … The call on the 53-yard run by [Ahlers] was more me than it was the kids. Without that one, it would’ve looked even nicer.”

Ahlers’ run led to a 42-yard field goal from ECU junior kicker, Jake Verity.

Verity’s other field goal was for 29 yards and came with 6:30 left in the second quarter after Temple committed four penalties for 56 yards. Temple committed a personal foul on the punt, leading to ECU starting the drive on their own 39-yard line. Two pass interference penalties and a roughing the passer penalty on redshirt-sophomore defensive end Quincy Roche helped put ECU in field goal range.

Nine different players on the Temple defense recorded a tackle for a loss. Graduate defensive tackle Michael Dogbe, junior linebacker Sam Franklin and junior safety Benny Walls each recorded a sack.

The Owls held the Pirates’ senior wide receiver Trevon Brown to just two catches and 22 yards. Brown, ECU’s top receiver and an NFL prospect, had 325 yards and two touchdowns entering Saturday’s game. Senior cornerback Rock Ya-Sin covered Brown for most of the game. Ya-Sin broke up a pass intended for Brown on a third down in the first quarter and a potential-touchdown reception in the second quarter.

Redshirt-junior defensive end Dana Levine played his first game Saturday after injuring his foot in Temple’s 19-17 loss against Villanova on Sept. 1. He recorded one tackle in 10-15 snaps.

Thacker said Levine brings a defensive presence to the team, but was on a strict snap count to ease him back from his injury.

“He had a good week of practice,” Thacker said. “We expect more work from him in the next couple of weeks. He brings an attitude and a physical presence and he also has the pass-rush ability. He adds to our depth and gives us a mix of players. That’s needed in this league with how many plays we have to defend.”

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