It was a tale of four quarters in Philadelphia tonight between the Temple Owls and the UCF Knights. Both teams had their strong points and weak points, coming all throughout the game.
The scoring started early in this game. Less than five minutes in, Temple running back Jahad Thomas took the ball from 12 yards out into the endzone and Temple was up 7-0 early in the first quarter. UCF would not find the board until the end of the first quarter, when kicker Matthew Wright drilled a 48-yard field goal with 30 seconds left. However, UCF still trailed 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Temple was back at early. Less than five minutes in the quarter, quarterback P.J. Walker threw a laser to the back of the endzone for wideout Ventrell Bryant to come down with a three-yard touchdown pass. The Owls went up 14-3, but UCF came to fight in the game. Defensive back Shaquill Griffin read a pass from Walker and picked him off, taking the ball 80 yards for a score and cut Temple’s lead to 14-10. With 1:08 left in the half, UCF handed the ball back over to Wright, who knocked down a 27-yard field goal, bringing the Knights to within one going into the half.
In the second half, the Knights came out right away and got on the board just three minutes into the game. Wright once again converted on another big field goal, this time a 41-yard field goal, and UCF took their first lead of the night, 16-14. Both team’s failed to score for the rest of the quarter, which brought an end to the Owls’ streak of 21 consecutive quarters with a score. The Owls would go into the fourth quarter down 16-14.
Less than a minute into the final quarter of play, Temple was able to get back on the board. Thomas got the ball on a handoff and ran 22 yards into the endzone to get the Owls back on top. Temple would attempt the two-point conversion and Walker would find Colin Thompson open for the conversion, putting Temple up 22-16.
The Owls were back at it. With five minutes left in the quarter, Thomas got the ball again and ran 21 yards for another touchdown, his third on the night. On another two-point conversion for Temple, they reached into their bag of tricks with a direct snap to Thomas, who pitched it back to wideout John Christopher and threw it to Walker to convert and put the Owls up 30-16. That would be all for the scoring and Temple walked away with an ugly victory.
Jahad Thomas was the standout star of the game. Thomas rushed for 199 yards and three rushing touchdowns on the night, a career night for the junior running back. Thomas also had 25 receiving yards, putting him over 200 total purpose yards.
During the second and third quarter, turnovers were the death of Temple. Whether it was muffed punt returns, interceptions or fumbles, Temple was having trouble holding onto the ball. In the fourth quarter, they were able to take care of the football and get their offense going to pull out a victory.
Despite the loss, UCF played their best game of the year. Their defense was getting the ball on the ground and was able to capitalize off of it. However, they could not keep the defense strong throughout the entire game, ultimately causing their downfall.
Temple is now 6-0 on the year, tying their best start to a season since 1974. This win has made the Owls bowl eligible for the second straight year. Next week, Temple will travel to East Carolina to take on the Pirates and look to go to 7-0 on the year before their big game against Notre Dame, currently ranked 14th in the nation.
UCF is still winless on the year, falling to 0-7. The Knights go home to host the 24th ranked Houston Cougars and UCF’s drought will most likely continue.