PHILADELPHIA, PA. 10/21/2016 – The Temple Owls got back into a first place tie in the American East defeating the South Florida Bulls 46 – 30, the team who also occupies the top spot. It was an expected slug fest. South Florida leads the conference in scoring and in rushing offense. Temple beat them in both especially on the on the ground answering every call.
“We responded when they scored,” said Temple Coach Matt Rhule. “USF is a great football team. They scored over 35 points in all their games. In my mind it was ‘get to 36’ knowing how explosive they are.”
Running back Ryquell Armstead ran for a career and game-high 210 yards and scored twice. He also set a personal mark with the longest rushing touchdown as he peeled off a 76-yard scoring run that gave Owls a 17 – 13 lead in the second quarter. It was the longest run for Temple this season. As a team the Cherry and White had 319 rushing yards, 528 on offense.
“It means a lot to me,” Armstead said about achieving the 200-yard milestone. “I’ve worked hard the entire season and it is really starting to show. Guys like Jahad Thomas and our coaches have put me in the right position to succeed with the play calling.”
Still, the game came down to two crucial situations.
In the third quarter Temple fell behind 23 – 20. Armstead got the lead back for the Owls with a 42-yard touchdown run. In the ensuing possession the South Florida punt was partially blocked by Avery Ellis giving Temple the ball 20 yards away from the goal line. Running Back Jahad Thomas capped the two-play drive with a 9-yard burst to put the Owls in front 34 – 23, one of his two scores on the night. Armstead gave the Cherry and White the lead, then the special teams and Thomas established the lead.
Still, the Bulls chipped away and got to within 37 – 30 with 8:42 on the clock in the fourth quarter when running back Marlon Mack ran 30-yards to pay dirt. USF got the ball back, but were pushed back via defensive play by Temple, and penalties. With the Bulls at their one yard line and 23 yards to a first down, quarterback Brett Kean, replacing injured starter Quinton Flowers, was pressured and intercepted by Delvon Randall setting up the Owls at the the opponent three yard line. Thomas scored his second of the night for a 44 – 30 Temple lead with just over three minutes left.
“Down the stretch it was a seven point game,” Rhule said. “It was a fourth down and we gambled on our defensive line. We said let our defensive line go.”
The Temple defense got a safety on the next possession for the final margin of victory, and they allowed USF to make 6 of 12 third down conversion chances.
“We understood the the kind of competition we were up against,” said defensive end Praise Martin_Oguike who also blocked and extra point attempt, the fifth of his career. “We went in with the mindset that we had to play the whole game and that is what we did.”
Another was of limiting an explosive offense is to keep their defense on the field. The Owls were effective by having a nearly two-to-one advantage in time of possession.
Temple freshman kicker Aaron Boumahri kicked three field goals. Tight End Colin Thompson caught his first touchdown pass.
For the Bulls Flowers had 277 yards of total offense. He scored a rushing touchdown to go with two scoring tosses.
The Cherry and White (5 – 3, 3 – 1) host Cincinnati at home next week. They are back on the top perch, but will need to stay focused.
“This is a huge win for us,” said Rhule. “It was a huge moment for us and gives us some control, but that could change in the blink of an eye.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian