The football team took a five-game losing streak into Morgantown, WV, on Saturday to take on No. 15 West Virginia, and things turned out as expected. The Mountaineers doused the Owls, 42-21, behind a four-touchdown effort by running back Kay-Jay Harris, to put the losing streak at six.
The Owls (1-8, 0-4) continued their exasperating trend of playing one solid half followed by an awful one. With less than seven minutes remaining in the second quarter, the teams were knotted at 14-14.
Then Harris rushed for a 2-yard touchdown, setting off a run of 28 unanswered points by the Mountaineers.
The Owls did not score again until 1:33 remained in the fourth quarter, when quarterback Walter Washington connected with senior wide receiver Phil Goodman for a 33-yard touchdown pass.
“With two weeks open, we know Temple has had plenty of time to prepare,” West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez said last week. “And we need to be prepared for them.”
Temple’s preparation showed in the stat box, where the Owls once again matched their opponents, while failing to match them on the scoreboard, where it mattered. The Owls out-gained the Mountaineers in total yardage, 443-411, and caused two turnovers and four sacks while surrendering only one of each.
They did not have Harris, however, who hurt the Owls on the ground and through the air. The senior caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Rasheed Marshall, who threw for 174 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for two more in the second half. He garnered 102 all-purpose yards.
For the Owls, Washington led the way with 323 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. He completed 16 of 24 pass attempts, was sacked four times and intercepted once.
Junior running back Umar Ferguson averaged a gaudy 8.2 yards per carry but rushed only 10 times. Linebacker Rian Wallace finished with 14 tackles and a fumble recovery.
Washington seems all but certain to break Henry Burris’ record for total yardage in a single season. Including his effort on Saturday, Washington now has 2,435 yards of total offense this season. He needs just 152 yards in the Owls’ last two games to break the record set by Burris as a sophomore in 1994.
He is also closing in on former running back Paul Palmer’s single-season touchdown record. Through nine games, Washington has rushed for 12 touchdowns, three shy of Palmer’s record of 15 set in 1986. Washington’s currently sits atop the Big East in rushing touchdowns and scoring with 74 points.
The time of possession breakdown between the two halves best described the Owls’ anemic offense in the third and fourth quarter. Temple held a 19:07-10:53 advantage in the first half, which concluded with a respectable 21-14 score. In the second half, West Virginia held the ball 18:16 to Temple’s 11:44, helping to spark the Mountaineers’ three straight touchdowns after the half.
Rian Wallace’s 14 tackles was his fifth double-digit tackle effort of the season. He also gathered his second fumble recovery of the season, forced by cornerback Ray Lamb in the first quarter.
Benjamin Watanabe can be reached at email@example.com.