PHILADELPHIA, PA. 10/6/2018 – Looking for an important bounce-back win after losing at Boston College, the Temple Owls needed a win. They would have to do that against the East Carolina University Pirates who were coming off a win over Old Dominion, the same ODU team that upset Virginia Tech the previous week.
The Owls got it with a solid effort in all three phases of the game that resulted in a 49 – 6 win over the Pirates. It was the largest margin of victory against an FBS team by the Cherry and White.
“I am proud of the guys, how they competed, how they battled, and stayed together,” said Temple Coach Geoff Collins. “It was an impressive win. They played hard, started fast, finished. I was proud of the team effort.”
Temple set the tone on offense scoring on three straight possessions in the first half taking control of the game. Quarterback Anthony Russo was efficient throwing two touchdown passes in that span; a 24-yarder to Sean Ryan, his first career scoring reception, and a 7-yard strike to Branden Mack. Running back Ryquell Armstead scored on a one-yard plunge to give the Owls a 21 – 0 lead in the second quarter. Russo completed 21 of 25 passes for 254 yards and 4 touchdowns to four different receivers last done in a 2015 game against SMU. Other scoring tosses went to Isaiah Wright and Randle Jones. Russo had as many touchdowns as incompletions.
“Our receivers did a great job of getting open and I had all the time in the world,” Russo said.
“We have a lot of trust in our offensive line. They were going to come on blitzes. The protection was great. I stood back there confident.”
ECU has a good run defense which caused Temple to look more toward the air. Armstead ran for 91 yards which breaks his streak of 110-yard games at four. As a team the Owls rushed for 173 yards including a one-yard plunge from defensive tackle Freddie Booth-Lloyd that crossed the goal line, his second of the year.
“They were doing some things to take away the running game,” Collins said. “When you do that, you sacrifice a little in run coverage. Our guys were able to take advantage of it with good throws and catches.”
The special teams would contribute when Isaiah Wright scored on a 59-yard punt return that followed the Armstead touchdown. It was the sixth straight game where Temple would score a touchdown by the defense or special teams.
“I was seeing all grey jerseys in front of me, I peaked to the right and saw all white,” said Wright about the return. “To the left there was a guy and I went inside of him.”
When he broke free he saw nothing but green in front of him. Wright recorded 192 yards of total offense.
On defense the Cherry and White stymied the attack of the Purple and Gold. East Carolina would convert only 4 of their third down 18 opportunities. It kept the Temple defense off the field. The Pirates ran for 76 yards, and 53 of those yards would come on a fourth-quarter run by quarterback Holton Ahlers. ECU would gain 196 total yards on 67 plays, less than half of their average.
Temple improves to 2 – 0 in the American and even their record overall at 3 – 3. Next week the team travels to Annapolis to play Navy. One week later the Owls return home to face Cincinnati, starting a string of four games against the upper echelon of the American standings.
“One-game at a time,” said defensive back Rick Ya-Sin. “Monday we are on to Navy.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian