As Homecoming Week comes to an end, the Owls hosted Rutgers on Saturday. The Owls came into the contest riding high after their first win of the season against Lafayette. The undefeated Rutgers spent last Saturday dismantling Wagner.
Despite the defense keeping Rutgers out of the end zone for the entire game, the Owls suffer their second loss of the season. Both losses came at the hands of Power 5 schools. How did it all go down?
After the Knights won the toss and deferred, the Owls went three & out on their opening drive. EJ Warner was in at quarterback in his first collegiate start. Last week, Warner subbed in for D’Wan Mathis in the 2nd quarter. The true freshman looked to build off of his two touchdown performance vs Lafayette.
The defense came ready to play, as they forced the three & out on the Scarlet Knights. The ensuing 12 play offensive drive was carried by Adonicas Sanders. The redshirt senior was option one on the Owls’ second drive, securing four touches for 58 yards.
One of those touches included a 19 yard reception on 4th & 4 to set the Owls up in the red zone. They would eventually cash in on a one yard touchdown run on a direct snap to Quincy Patterson.
Sanders would have quite the praise for quarterback postgame:
“EJ is a great leader for our offense. He spends hours and hours in the film room. He’s an NFL ready quarterback.”Temple WR Adonicas Sanders
The Owls were up 7-0, and the defense kept the momentum going with another three & out and punt. On the following drive, Ian Stewart, who had his first career touchdown last week dropped a pretty deep ball from Warner. The play would not have count anyways due to an ineligible receiver downfield penalty.
The quarter would end with the Scarlet Knights getting on the board with a 45 yard field goal.
The 2nd quarter would start with both teams trading punts. Rutgers’ drive was ended on a Layton Jordan sack. Jordan would add another sack in the 2nd half, bringing his season total to 4.5.
Midway through the second quarter, the Owls found themselves in another 4th down situation. Once again, Quincy Patterson took a direct snap, to pick up the one yard gain needed for the 1st down.
However the drive would completely fall apart as an Ian Stewart fumble derailed their momentum. Then the Scarlet Knights snatched the momentum away completely on a deflection pick six from DB Shaquan Royal. With the score at 10-7, the Owls would never get the lead back for the rest of the game.
That would also be the score at the half after a failed 4th down attempt from Temple, making them 2/3 on the game.
Rutgers would receive the 2nd half kickoff, and the Owls defense made quick work with another three and out. The Owls wouldn’t do much with the defense’s momentum on offense.
The Scarlet Knights would have their best drive of the game. The ten play series would go for 46 yards and ate up over five minutes of the 3rd quarter.
However, the defense would hold Rutgers to just another field goal to keep it a one score game. The Owls would for a fourth time find themselves on offense going for it on 4th down. This time, Edward Saydee came up short on a 4th & 2 run, the Owls now had a 50% conversion rate on 4th downs.
The short field would come back to hurt them, as Jude McAtamney put a 3rd field goal through the uprights to make it a 16-7 ballgame.
At the start of the 4th quarter, the Owls would answer and get back into the endzone with a 47 yard connection from Warner to Jordan Smith. This is now the second week in a row the two have connected on a touchdown pass.
The next Rutgers drive was the difference in the 4th quarter, with Rutgers taking nearly eight precious minutes off the clock. Although the Owls ultimately forced a punt, the damage was done, as the offense now had only had 6 minutes to take the lead.
That should be plenty of time for most offenses, but the Owls didn’t move with the most urgency. Their final drive on offense was ten plays long, taking nearly four minutes off the clock.
The drive ended on yet another 4th down attempt, the 6th of the game. The Owls would not convert, and Rutgers would run out the clock, ending a defensive masterpiece on both sides.
Although the Owls don’t accept moral victories, the defense should absolutely hold its head up. As mentioned earlier, the Scarlet Knights offense couldn’t get into the endzone after a 66 point performance the week prior. The passing game of Rutgers was nonexistent, with just 59 yards on the entire day.
“The defense has really started to identify their personality. Forcing offenses to field goals instead of touchdowns. That’s becoming a consistent thing. Just really proud of how hard we played.”Temple Head Coach Stan Drayton
EJ Warner finishes with 215 passing yards, on 19 of 32 passing, with a touchdown and interception.
Jalen McMurray led the Owls with seven total tackles, three of those being solo.
The Scarlet Knights now lead the all time series with the Owls, 22-15.
Greg Schiano becomes the all-time winningest Head Coach at Rutgers with Saturday’s win.
The Owls will look to get back to .500 in the final contest of a 3 game homestand, when they host UMASS at 2pm.