PHILADELPHIA, PA 10/19/2013 – The Temple Owls got their first win of the season defeating the Black Knights of Army 33 – 14 at The Linc. To achieve the victory The Owls needed to get off to a good start and did so by scoring touchdowns on their first two offensive possessions of the game. Freshman quarterback P.J. Walker completed long passes to get the Owls into scoring position and into the end zone for a 14-point lead in the first quarter. To get that first win it was important for the Cherry and White to get the early lead.
“You have to get up on offense,” Rhule said. “For P.J.’s (Walker) confidence to go out they way he played, that gave us some momentum. I knew we had to start fast. We got momentum and the defense answered the bell.”
“It was about time,” said Walker about winning a game. “This was the time to get it and we got it. I think from now on things will be moving in the right direction.”
The Cherry and White took the opening kickoff and marched to a 6 play, 78 yard touchdown drive in 2:47. Walker completed a 45 yard pass to junior wide receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick that was originally ruled a touchdown, but a review placed the ball at the one yard line of Army. Junior running back Kenneth Harper crossed the goal line for his team-best 7th touchdown of the season at the 12:13 mark of the first quarter. After forcing an Army punt Temple got the ball back at their 1 yard line with 8 minutes on the clock. The Owls moved downfield as Walker found Fitzpatrick for 30 yards and a first down at the Temple 43 yard line. Five plays later Walker teamed up with Fitzpatrick for a 37 yard touchdown pass with 4:26 to play in the first quarter, and gave the Cherry and White a commanding 14 – 0 lead. The drive was 10 plays, 99 yards and took 3:41. Fitzpatrick caught 4 passes in the game for 128 yards and a touchdown. He and Walker are beginning to develop a chemistry together.
“We’ve been friends ever since we got here, said Fitzpatrick. “On the field it is starting to click for the both of us. I feel like we are getting into a relationship on the field.”
The Owls kept the momentum going in the second quarter when Walker threw his second touchdown pass of the game, 39 yards to sophomore wide receiver John Christopher at the 3:43 mark. Following the kickoff from their first play from scrimmage, Army running back Trenton Turrentine could not get control of the football. In the scramble Temple sophomore linebacker Nate D. Smith came out of the pack and scampered 19 yards for the touchdown giving the Owls a 26 – 0 lead into halftime.
“That was crazy,” Smith said about the play resulting in the fumble recovery and touchdown. “I jumped on the pile and happened to roll over. The ball just popped up. It was a great feeling.”
Smith was credited with 9 tackles, 6 solo.
Any Army thoughts of a comeback seemed to be squashed in the third quarter. Quarterback Tevin Long fumbled the ball at the Army 21 yard line. Sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich recovered for Temple. Two plays later freshman running back Zaire Williams ran 15 yards finding the right corner of the goal line for a touchdown and a 33 – 0 lead. Matakevich recorded 13 tackles in the contest all solo, and added an interception in addition to the fumble recovery. Temple limited Army to 338 total yards, 83 in the air, and benefitted from 4 turnovers from the Black Knights. Army starting quarterback Angel Santiago was injured and left the game early.
“The story today was the defense,” said Rhule. “The defense came out and set the tone. I was proud of the way the defense got the ball back, and we scored on defense today. We made turnovers.”
The attempt for a shutout by the Temple defense ended with 3:19 to play in the third quarter when wide receiver Patrick Laird hauled in a 14 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kelvin White for an Army touchdown. White added another touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Temple gained 361 yards on offense. Williams rushed for 94 yards. Walker completed 10 of 16 passes for 203 yards and had 2 touchdowns and 1 interception.
The Owls record is 1 – 6 and get ready for their next game, a conference encounter at SMU. They go into that game on a winning note.
“This was the first time we didn’t play losing football before we played winning football,” said Rhule. “As a result, our kids won.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian