With 12 minutes and 48 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, redshirt-junior quarterback Anthony Russo threw a touchdown pass to redshirt-junior receiver Branden Mack in the back left corner of the endzone, giving the Owls a nine-point lead.
“Me and Russo have been staying after practice to work on that fade ball,” Mack said. “We really haven’t been connecting in the beginning of the season… I told him how I like it and he threw it the right way.”
Mack finished the game with nine catches, 125 yards and one touchdown.
Temple University football (5-1, 2-0 The American Athletic Conference) defeated Memphis (5-1, 1-1 The AAC), 30-28, at home on Saturday afternoon.
The offense got off to a strong start on their opening drive when redshirt-senior running back Jager Gardner ran in a one-yard touchdown to put the Owls ahead 7-0. Gardner finished the game with 77 yards and one touchdown.
Gardner’s touchdown was set up by a 38-yard pass completion from Russo to Mack. Russo threw the ball up into double coverage but Mack was able to come down with the ball anyway.
Russo finished the game 20-of-33 for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Russo has not thrown an interception in the last two games, despite throwing at least one interception in the first four games of the season.
“[Russo] had a big third-down pick up to Isaiah Wright,” coach Rod Carey said. “Certainly, I think he’s executing at a high level right now.”
Russo still believes he left some points on the field, he said.
In the fourth quarter, Russo overthrew a pass intended for senior receiver Isaiah Wright near the Memphis goal line. Wright had beaten his defender on the play and was wide open.
“I missed Isaiah Wright down on the sideline before,” Russo said. “I didn’t want a missed throw and then have Memphis come back and score.”
The Owls’ offense had two fumbles in the game. The first fumble by redshirt freshman Re’Mahn Davis was recovered by Memphis. The Owls’ second fumble came on a trick play when Mack threw a pass to redshirt-sophomore quarterback Todd Centeio who caught the ball and then fumbled.
In spite of the turnovers, the Owls scored the most points in a game since defeating Bucknell 56-12 on Aug. 31.
Temple will take the field again next week on the road against the undefeated Southern Methodist University (6-0, 2-0 The AAC) on Saturday, Oct. 19.