Temple University’s 49-6 win over East Carolina marked the first time since November 2015 four different wide receivers caught touchdowns.
“That’s just a testament to our wide receiver group,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Anthony Russo said. “We got so many guys who can get open and make plays for us, doesn’t matter who it is, where they are at on the field, they are gonna go make a play for us.”
During the week, redshirt sophomore Freddie Johnson quit the football team to attend to a family medical emergency. Johnson later wanted to come back to the team, but missed too many days of practice this week to be able to play Saturday. Graduate wide receiver Ventell Bryant, who recorded one catch for six yards, was injured during practice this week and was on a limited snap count.
To fill the production void left by an absent Johnson and a limited Bryant, junior Randle Jones and freshman Sean Ryan combined for nine receptions, 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
“We knew since camp that [Randle Jones and Sean Ryan] were going to be guys for us,” said Russo. “I think it was just a matter about getting them their opportunities. Being able to go out there today and get Sean a couple of catches early with some short balls, same with Randle. A true freshman like Sean..he’s going to continue to make plays for us.”
Ryan received the most playing time he has all season and caught his first career touchdown eight minutes into the game to put Temple ahead 7-0. Ryan finished with four receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown.
“Sean did a really good job,” Collins said. Those two [Ryan and starting wide receiver Ventell Bryant] have such a good relationship, they’re big brother, little brother within our program. [Ventell] didn’t think, I didn’t even think he was gonna play at all today. He toughed it out, went out there and tried to do as much as he could for the program. He invested so much time in Sean Ryan this week and got Sean Ryan ready to go.”
Jones caught three passes for 47 yards in his first career start, highlighted by his 31-yard touchdown reception with less than six minutes to play in the third quarter.
Junior Isaiah Wright stepped in to Bryant’s role, and had 192 all-purpose yards on the day. Wright made three catches for 22 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown from Russo with 2 minutes and 15 seconds left in the second quarter. Wright also returned a punt 59-yards for a score to make the game 28-0 with just under 13 minutes left to play in the first half.
“He’s a dynamic playmaker and I knew the second we woke up this morning … that it was going to be a big day for Isaiah Wright,” Collins said. “He had the right look, the right attitude, had a really good week of practice, and he came out today and had a big time performance.
Wright was impressed with what he saw out of his fellow receivers today, knowing that the Owls needed to have someone else step up besides himself.
“Today I just saw poise and confidence,” Wright said. That’s one thing that is difficult to have in this game due to the fast pace and the tempo.”