Temple football came away with a statement conference victory against #21 Memphis by a score of 31-12. Pushed into a must win scenario with USF’s victory last night, a win against UConn next week will secure the Owls a spot in the AAC Championship game.
After consecutive lackluster performances by the Temple defense, Phil Snow’s bunch came to play for Temple against the high-flying, 8th ranked offense in the country. Swarming the ball all day, the Owls limited Paxton Lynch to just 156 yards and no touchdowns. After rolling an ankle early in the game, the junior was unable to find a rhythm. He had thrown at least one touchdown in every game this season, but Temple put an end to that streak. The Tigers finished with a 232 yards of total offense after coming into the game averaging 541 yards per game. Their 156 pass yards, 76 rush yards and 232 total yards were all season-lows. evidence that the unit did their homework preparing for the attack.
PJ Walker played stellar, finishing with 261 yards and two touchdowns to one interception to go along with 49 yards rushing. Walker displayed poise and made exceptional decisions down the stretch for the Owls, converting five 3rd down attempts in the second half. Walker led a 13 play, 62 yard drive that knocked off 7:59 off of the clock and deflated any chance of the Memphis offense putting together a comeback. Austin Jones’ field goal capped the drive and made it 24-12 Temple with 5:25 remaining.
After starting with three consecutive turnovers on three drives, the offense got hot for, orchestrating two straight scoring drives. After Walker found Romond Deloatch on a fade route to go up 7-6 on Memphis, the Owls didn’t look back. Walker finished the first half with 190 passing yards with that touchdown and an early interception. He was looking for Robby Anderson early and often, as the wideout was targeted 12 times. Anderson finished with 5 receptions and 80 yards for the offense, including a key 3rd down grab that kept their late third quarter drive alive. That drive would eventually end with Kip Patton rumbling into the endzone from 13 yards out for his first career touchdown that gave the Owls a comfortable 21-12 lead.
David Hood got the start at halfback and ran for 61 yards on 14 carries and his first career rushing touchdown. Hood’s second quarter score, bouncing off defenders and diving into the endzone, put the Owls up 14-6. Tight ends Patton and Saledeem Major made their way into the end zone as well for the offense. Major’s reception from a red-hot Walker put put the Owls up 31-12 and the icing on the cake with 3:22 to go in the fourth quarter.
Temple’s defense didn’t allow the Tigers to score a touchdown the entire game, something the Tigers haven’t since September of 2014. It didn’t take long for Tyler Matakevich to become the first player in Temple history to record 100+ tackles in four consecutive years. He only needed four, and finished with 11 total tackles. Only 7 players in NCAA history have accomplished such feat. Matakevich wasn’t the only one to make history. With his late touchdown toss, Walker now holds the all time Temple record for passing touchdowns with 50. He surpassed Henry Burris, whose mark stood for 17 years.
The Owls will wrap up the regular season next Saturday against UConn. Kickoff is set for 7:00 as the seniors will be honored at Lincoln Financial Field. Barring USF comes out with a victory on Thursday against a winless UCF team, the Owls once again control their own destiny: One win, and they’re in.