Temple’s defense couldn’t stop Tulsa in second straight blowout loss

Temple dropped its first game of conference play 48-26 due to Tulsa’s 533 yards of offense.

E.J. Warner struggled to get the offense going in the Owls' loss to Tulsa. | JOSHUA CRELLIN / THE TEMPLE NEWS

After its blowout loss to Miami last week, Temple Football hoped to start conference play with a win against Tulsa, a team that had struggled against the pass so far this season. 

However, Tulsa quarterback Cardell Williams and his offense had other ideas.

The Owls (2-3, 0-1 American Athletic Conference) lost to the Golden Hurricane (3-2, 1-0 AAC) 48-26 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Thursday night. Temple appeared out-matched, as it could not stop Tulsa’s offense both through the air and on the ground.

The Golden Hurricane finished with 533 yards of total offense, compared to the Owls’ 313. Williams had 244 yards and three touchdowns through the air and was also Tulsa’s leading rusher, adding 90 yards and a touchdown on the ground. The freshman had just three incompletions in the game.

The Owls were once again unable to get the run game going, finishing with 44 yards, including 29 in the first half. When Temple had longer drives, the offense slowed to a halt in the red zone, finishing with 18 points on three trips.

After running back Joquez Smith’s 142-yard performance against Norfolk State on Sept. 16, the Owls haven’t rushed for more than a combined 50 yards in a game.

Temple’s passing game moved down the field on the first drive, getting tight end Jordan Smith involved early. However, the drive fizzled out and the Owls had to settle for a field goal, taking an early 3-0 lead.

Despite the promising start, Tulsa responded with a scoring drive of its own — three of them to be exact. The Golden Hurricane took three of their first four drives down the field to take a 21-3 lead with two minutes left in the first half.

Temple had no answer for Williams, who finished the first half with only one incompletion while throwing for three touchdowns. Wide receiver Marquis Shoulders was on the receiving end of two of those passes, and Devan Williams caught the other.

The Owls began to find their rhythm in the second half. After allowing a field goal, Temple quickly responded, as redshirt freshman safety Sam Martin ran a kickoff back for a 95-yard touchdown, the first Temple kick return touchdown since 2018.

Temple moved back down the field on its next drive. This time, quarterback E.J. Warner found Amad Anderson Jr. late in the third quarter for a three-yard touchdown to put the game within striking distance at 34-18.

However, the defense failed to pick the offense up once it found a groove. Tulsa running back Anthony Watkins scored a touchdown in the third quarter, and Tahj Gary burst for a 40-yard run in the fourth quarter. The Golden Hurricane finished with 289 yards on the ground.

Sitting at 2-3, Temple knows there’s little room for error through the rest of the season if they want to qualify for a bowl game for the first time since 2019. 

The Owls will look to get back on track when they return home to face UTSA (1-3, 0-0 AAC) Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. for Temple’s annual Homecoming game.

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