Temple was riding high after their largest margin of defeat in history last week over the Delaware State Hornets. In their first American Athletic Conference, AAC, matchup of the season, the Owls brought their swagger to East Hartford, CT. Saturday.
To say the Owls’ defense has been a revelation this year is a severe understatement. The cherry and white lead the nation in turnover differential and UConn added to their success.
On the opening Huskies posession, junior CB Tavon Young picked off senior QB Chandler Whitmer with UConn driving and took it to the house for a 93 yard pick six.
Last week’s special teams hero Khalif Herbin muffed his second punt of the season in the 2nd which led to UConn operating with great field position.
The Huskies struggles on offense have been well documented under coach Bob Diaco in his second season. They came into the game averaging an inept 189 yards passing with a minuscule 62 yards on the ground.
Uconn failed to capitalize as kicker Bobby Puyol botched a 45 yard field goal. Temple set up shop at the 28 but the offensive woes resulted in punter Alex Starzyk changing field position for the team’s strength to operate.
The Owls were in the Huskies backfield almost every play in the first half and chased Whitmer out of the game due to the pass rush. A rare sight in a football game as the starter did not succumb to an injury but the QB took many shots from Temple.
Following another UConn punt, Herbin once again botched the catch recovering it in Owls’ territory. The final Owls’ series of the half amounted to a three and out with the team totaling 31 yards in the first half.
No typo here as UConn developed their first scoring drive with Whitmer finding senior wideout Geremi Davis twice for 41 yards that was capped off with a field goal.
Whatever coach Matt Rhule told the squad at halftime clicked in. QB P.J. Walker struggled in the first half but hit Jalen Fitzpatrick on a bootleg for a 42 yard strike putting the Owls up two scores.
After another Huskies punt, returned by WR John Christopher who replaced Herbin, Walker found Fitzpatrick for a 21 yard gain and Romond Deloatch on a 30 yard completion. The drive was capped off by a one yard QB keeper by Walker 21-3 Owls in the third.
Whitmer faced the heat again in the second half getting blindsided by corner Sean Chandler fumbling the ball to DE Praise Martin-Oguike who rumbled for the score.
The jubilation was short lived with Whitmer dumping off a screen pass to RB Arkeel Newsome 74 yards untouched. With the Huskies trailing 28-10, the crowd finally woke up in Rentschler Field.
Temple orchestrated a nine play drive with Walker hitting Fitzpatrick three times for 36 yards on the drive. The Owls had to punt on the UConn 42 but Starzyk pinned the Huskies on their own two yard line. The defense stepped up again with limited room to operate as the Huskies couldn’t get out of their end zone for a safety.
The Owls tacked on two field goals in the fourth to wrap up the 36-10 victory in Connecticut and earn their first conference victory of the season.
Although the run game struggled mightily, the defense once again was the focal point in an Owls victory. Walker finished 20/29 with 231 yards through the air and a TD. Coach Rhule has to be ecstatic with the play of his defense after a tumultuos 2013.
Temple (3-1, 1-0) has their second bye week before facing conference foe Tulsa at home on October 11.