PHILADELPHIA, PA. 10/1/2016 – The Temple Owls were able to score quick, in bunches, and on both sides of the ball in the first half to post a 45 – 20 win over the SMU Mustangs in the American Athletic Conference opener for each team. Temple went out to a 35 – 14 halftime lead scored 35 points in a half for the second consecutive week.
“Early on defensively I thought it was a really strong performance, three and out and we are winning the field position battle,” said Temple Coach Matt Rhule about the overall team effort. “The special teams were coming up big. We had some good returns. The defense and special teams started out nice for us. It allowed our offense to get going.”
The Owls fell behind on the first play of the game when SMU linebacker Jordan Wyatt returned an interception of a Philip Walker pass 35-yards for a touchdown.
The Cherry and White responded by scoring 35 points over the next 13 minutes. Running Back Jahad Thomas scored at the 9:05 mark to tie the game, then Walker threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Ventell Bryant just over a minute later to take a lead they would never relinquish. After scores on the ground by Ryquell Armstead and Thomas, his second of the game, the defense got on the board.
A sack, fumble recovery, and an 8-yard return by Romond Deloatch put the Owls in front 35 – 7. Deloatch almost had a touchdown on both sides of the ball as he was stopped at the one-yard line on an earlier pass reception. The last time the Owls scored on offense and defense was on November 6, 2015 against … SMU.
Armstead posted 159 yards rushing, it was his first career 100-yard game. He added 2 touchdowns, and broke 3 runs of over 30 yards with 37 yards being the longest.
“It is meaningful for me because I’ve been working so hard,” Armstead said of his accomplishment. “I’ve been showing outbursts, but I haven’t been breaking the big runs that I do in practice. To finally do it in a game was wonderful for me.”
On defense Temple forced 4 SMU turnovers, 2 interceptions and 2 lost fumbles. The Owls recorded 4 sacks, two were be lineman Haason Reddick who forced both fumbles and recovered one.
“We stopped the run game early,” Reddick said. “It forced them to pass and created more pass rush opportunities. On a couple of opportunities I was able to be successful.”
“Haason Reddick was an unsung hero,” Rhule said. “He was wreaking havoc even when he wasn’t getting there.”
Mustangs quarterback Ben Hicks threw for 199 yards and had a pair of touchdowns and interceptions.
It will be a short week for the Owls (3 – 2, 1 – 0) who travel to Memphis for a Thursday night conference showdown. The objective is to stay consistent.
“That’s our team,” said Rhule. “Whatever side is not playing at a high level, the other side picks them up.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian