PHILADELPHIA, October 1, 2011 – The game was of great importance for both teams. It was a battle of MAC Division favorites, Temple third in the East and Toledo first in the West. The Temple Owls wanted to sustain the momentum built after posting a 38 – 0 win at Maryland. For the Toledo Rockets it was their first game after an emotional three weeks in which they nearly beat a Big Ten (Ohio State 27 – 22)and a Big East school (Syracuse 33 – 30). It could be said that they did beat Syracuse, but this is a new game on a new day.
Toledo bounced back using its hurry-up offense, and took advantage of Temple turnovers to post a 36 – 13 win over Temple at Lincoln Financial Field. Toledo scored twice off Temple turnovers early and all five touchdown drives were completed in under three minutes.
“I give Toledo a lot of credit, they came off a tough loss,” said Temple Coach Steve Addazio. They came in ready to play. You can’t turn the ball over, and we turned it over four times. We had a good opening drive, the turned the ball over on the punt return, then turned it over again. We lost momentum and never seemed to regain it. The tale of the game is in the turnovers. That forced the momentum to swing hard.”
“We didn’t do what we needed to do,” said Senior Defensive End Adrian Robinson. “We needed to stop them, we didn’t stop them. It’s as plain and simple as that, we didn’t stop them.”
After Temple took a 3 – 0 lead on a 30 yard field goal by Junior Kicker Brandon McManus, Toledo got its first score off a Temple turnover. The Owls forced the Rockets to punt, but the ballo hit returner Junior Matt Brown. Toledo Safety Kishon Wilcher recovered at the Temple 10 yard line. Three plays later Quarterback Austin Dantin scored on a quarterback sneak from one yard out. Toledo converted a 2-Point conversion to take an 8 – 3 lead with 5:58 remaining in the first quarter. Three plays later Toledo Safety Ross Madison intercepted a pass by Temple Senior Quarterback Chester Stewart setting up a first down at the Temple 41 yard line. Toledo Running Back Morgan Williams took the ball on a 4th and 1 over the left side breaking free for a 32 yard touchdown run. The extra point gave Toledo a 15 – 3 lead. As the second quarter started on a 3rd and 2 at the Temple 45 yard line, Toledo jammed the middle. Stewart threw a play action screen to Senior Tight End Evan Rodriguez who took the ball up the left sideline for 55 yards and a touchdown bringing Temple to within 15 – 10. The Owls followed that with a 37 yard field goal by McManus to get to within 2 at 15 – 13 with 7:22 to play in the half.
Toledo continued its offensive punch answering with a gadget play as Dwight Macon lined up at Quarterback. He handed off to Wide Receiver Back Eric Page who stopped and threw the ball downfield to Macon for a 33 yard touchdown. Temple missed a 46 yard field goal late in the quarter and the teams went into the locker room with Toledo leading 22 – 13.
In the third quarter Toledo continued to score quickly. In a drive lasting 2:53 Running Back David Fluellen caught a 20 yard touchdown pass from Austin capping an 8 play 58 yard drive. The lead increased to 29 – 13 and held throughout the 3rd quarter. Temple was trying to get the momentum to swing back in their favor, but could not. Then the breaks began go against the Cherry and White. Stewart completed a screen pass to Pierce who broke free up the eft sideline. At the Toledo 30 Pierce was hit by Toledo Defensive Back Byron Best causing a fumble that the Rockets recovered at the fumble. Addazio challenged the ruling feeling that Pierce went out-of-bounds before the hit, but the replay confirmed the ruling on the field.
“That turnover really hurt us,” said Addazio about the fumble.
In the fourth quarter after taking the ball over on downs, Toledo put together a 5 play, 49 yard drive in 2:33 as Fluellen went over from a yard away increasing the lead to 36 – 13 with 11:05 to play.
Morgan Williams led all rushers with 121 yards and a touchdown. David Fluellen had 2 touchdowns on 41 rushing yards and 67 receiving yards. For Temple Bernard Pierce had 75 yards rushing and 37 receiving, but did not find the end zone. Evan Rodriguez had 2 catches for 67 yards and the touchdown.
The game was statistically even. Temple had an advantage in Possession Time (34:01 – 25:59) and out-gained Toledo 318 yards to 305. But Temple did have 4 turnovers to just 1 for Toledo.
“They scored on big plays, and we were grinding it out,” said Addazio.
The Owls are 3 – 2 on the season and they are 1 – 1 in conference play. The Cherry and White prepare for another MAC game at Ball State on October 8.
“We lost to a Western Division team, Addazio said. “Our whole season is about winning the East and playing for the MAC Championship. That goal is right there in front of us. It’s about how you handle this. It’s about how you bounce back and get ready to go on the road and play. What we need to do is get ready and go play Ball State. One game does not make or break your season. Every goal this season is flat-out in front of us. It’s time to get back to work, fix what ails you, learn, grow, mature, and develop as a football team, and go on the road and get a win.”
“We will get this fixed, that’s for sure,” Robinson said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian