Temple Owls' Defense Shines and Takes Down #21 Memphis Tigers
Derik Hamilton - USA TODAY Sports

Temple Owls' Defense Shines and Takes Down #21 Memphis Tigers

The Temple Owls prevailed over the Memphis Tigers to get back on the right foot as the season is drawing to a close.

Maxwell Rizer

In an American Athletic Conference matchup of two teams that have been in slumps, the Temple Owls fought harder and took down the #21 Memphis Tigers.

The first quarter saw very little action, scoring wise.. Temple committed two early turnovers while in Memphis’ territory, but Memphis struggled to convert points from the opportunities. Memphis did put up three points thanks to a 31 yard field goal from kicker Jake Elliott but they were the only points seen in the first quarter.

Come the second quarter, Memphis got on the board early with another field goal from Elliott, this one from 46 yards deep to make it 6-0. Temple struck back quickly with a 13 yard touchdown pass from quarterback P.J. Walker to wideout Romond Deloatch to make it 7-6. Temple was able to make stops on defense and their offense was able to strike again, with a 14 yard touchdown run from David Hood to extend their lead to 14-6. With ninety seconds left in the half, Memphis drove down the field but failed to reach the endzone again as Elliott was given the ball again and kicked a 44 yard field goal to make it 14-9. The score stayed the same going into the half as Temple was leading the twenty-first team in the nation.

The third quarter was just as quiet as the first. Elliott lined up for a 36 yard attempt but his kick hit up the upright and failed to convert, keeping the score at 14-9. On their next drive, Elliott lined up for a 39 yard attempt, as Memphis was still struggling to get into the endzone, and sent this one through the uprights but were still down 14-12. That would be all the scoring for the third quarter and it was close as the fourth quarter started.

In the fourth, Temple shined on both sides of the ball. On the first play of the final quarter, tight end Kip Patton was put in motion and took the handoff from thirteen yards out and got into the endzone for the touchdown. The Owls were up 21-12 and then the defense had its turn to shine. Temple forced a three and out and the offense got the ball back. On their drive, they milked eight minutes off the clock and ended the drive with a 35 yard field goal from Austin Jones to make it 24-12. Temple then forced Memphis to turn the ball over on downs on just four plays. Temple then scored a touchdown with three minutes left in the game. Saladeem Major caught a quick screen and took it into the endzone from the nineteen yard line to put the Owls up 31-12, and that would be all she wrote.

David Hood stepped up in a big way today. The usual starter Jahad Thomas was not playing at 100% today, as said by head coach Matt Rhule post game, and gave the ball to Hood after proving himself all year. Hood ran for 61 yards and a touchdown, providing life to the run game. Much life wasn’t needed, as P.J. Walker took over through the air, throwing for 261 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.

Memphis has been on a downward slide recently, losing their previous two games before losing this one. Their offense, usually high scoring, was limited today. Temple’s defense got all over them, not allowing them to score a single touchdown all game, the only time all year that Memphis has failed to do such. Memphis will most likely fall out of the College Football Playoffs rankings following their third straight loss and now sit at 8-3 on the year. Memphis plays SMU at home next week and look to end the season with a win instead of four straight losses.

Temple got back on the right foot. The Owls’ defense, previously allowing 84 points in their last two games, only allowed 12 points, all off of field goals, and showed why they are one of the top defenses in the game. Temple is now at 9-2 on the year and their hopes to make the conference championship game are high now after this win. They play UConn next week at home and look to finish off the season with double digit wins.

Two records were also set in today’s game. Linebacker Tyler Matakevich recorded his 100th tackle on the season, making this his fourth straight year with 100 tackles. Matakevich is now one of seven players to accomplish such a feat. P.J. Walker also threw for his fiftieth touchdown pass of his career, setting the Temple record for most in a career.