Turnovers doom Owls against Rutgers

Temple University football suffered their largest deficit since 2006 in a 61-14 loss to Rutgers University.

Temple football head coach Rod Carey stands on the sidelines during the Owls' game against Southern Methodist University at Lincoln Financial Field on Nov. 7 2020 | COLLEEN CLAGGETT / FILE

With one minute and 47 seconds left in the first quarter, Temple University football redshirt-freshman quarterback D’Wan Mathis threw a pass intended for redshirt-junior tight end Darius Pittman, but the ball went through Pittman’s hands and into the arms of Rutgers University senior cornerback Tre Avery. 

The Owls (0-1, 0-0 The American Athletic Conference) lost 61-14 to the Scarlet Knights (1-0, 0-0 The Big Ten Conference) on Saturday afternoon, largely because of the five turnovers they gave up throughout the game.

Temple was originally scheduled to play Rutgers Thursday night, but the game was moved to Saturday afternoon due to major water damage on the roads leading to SHI Stadium from Tropical Storm Ida, The Temple News reported. 

After Rutgers increased their lead to 12-0 late in the first quarter, the Scarlet Knights never looked back.

“I don’t think there was a performance that was good at all,” said head coach Rod Carey. 

Shortly after Mathis scored a touchdown early in the third quarter, he came off the field due to a left leg injury during the Owls’ second drive of the half. This threw off the momentum Temple gained with Mathis under center, and redshirt-freshman Mariano Valenti came in to finish the drive. 

The Scarlet Knights scored 35 unanswered points in the second half and finished with 365 total yards of offense thanks to Temple’s mishaps, which gave the Scarlet Knights great field position to begin their drives with. 

The Owls threw two interceptions and fumbled three times in the defeat. Rutgers scored 21 straight points off turnovers, but it was the inopportune timing of those turnovers that hurt the Owls. 

After junior quarterback Johnny Langan’s touchdown in the first quarter, Temple redshirt-freshman kick returner and wide receiver De’Von Fox fumbled the ball during the following kickoff, leading to another turnover. 

On the following drive, Rutgers senior linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi stripped Mathis of the ball, setting up the Scarlet Knights with great field position. Fatukasi would finish the game with 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss, disrupting the Owls’ backfield on several occasions. 

Temple’s offensive line could not find their groove this game, and with a strong Rutgers secondary, there was not enough time for the Owls’ quarterbacks to dissect the defense. 

Meanwhile, the Owls did not record a sack, a trend continuing from last season where they only recorded 13 sacks over seven games. 

A bright spot for the Owls was the play of redshirt-freshman running back Edward Saydee, who recorded two catches for 25 yards and had an 11-yard touchdown run. Saydee seemed to solidify himself as the team’s starting running back going forward, although he suffered an injury late in the game. 

Backup quarterback freshman Justin Lynch entered the game in the third quarter and threw an interception returned 46 yards by freshman cornerback Max Melton for a touchdown. 

This play came a little more than a minute after his brother, senior receiver Bo Melton, caught a pass from senior quarterback Noah Vedral and ran 40 yards for a touchdown. Bo Melton recorded six catches for 59 yards and the touchdown. 

The Owls head to Akron, Ohio, next Saturday to take on the University of Akron (0-0, 0-0 Mid-American Conference) at 3:30 p.m. The Zips will face Auburn University today at 7:00 p.m. for their first game. 

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