It was a tale of two halves for the Owls, as they entered the locker room down 17-0 at the half, only to score 27 unanswered points to take down USF and pick up their 7th win of the season.
The play of the game came on the first play of an attempted game-tying or winning drive by the Bulls when Dana Levine sacked USF quarterback Blake Barnett forcing a fumble that went into the waiting arms of Chapelle Russell in the end zone to seal the deal.
Offensively for the Owls in the first half, it was the polar opposite of the 59 point shootout on the road against Houston a week ago. Temple mustered just 130 yards total in the first half, and mistakes along with a missed field goal saw them go into the locker room with zero points on the board.
After dominating on the ground against Houston, the Owls managed just 31 yards in the first half, led by Armstead with a long of 22 yards. The offense sputtered on the plus side of the field twice, one ending in a 29 yard missed field goal by Mobley, followed by a failed fake punt attempt in Houston territory.
For Houston, it was a strong half offensively, capitalizing on the Temple mistakes. Running back Jordan Cronkrite continued his strong season, as he rushed for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground in the opening 30 minutes. Cronkrite averaged 6.3 yards per carry in the half.
The Temple defense managed to keep Alabama and Arizona State transfer Blake Barnett in check in the opening half. The junior mustered just 45 yards through the air on a mere 8 completions.
The second half surge began with an onside kick to start the second half that was recovered by the Owls but was called back due to fair-catch interference.
The play marked the beginning of a second half filled with aggressive decisions by Geoff Collins and aggressive play by both the offensive and defensive units. The Bulls would fail to convert a 4th and 1 on the plus side of the field, turning the ball over back to the Temple offense.
Temple took over and didn’t look back as Armstead punched it in from one-yard-out followed by a pair of Will Mobley field goals to bring the Owls within four. Temple entered the final frame trailing 17-13.
Enter Isaiah Wright, the junior do it all wide receiver. Wright made up for an earlier fumble by torching the Bulls punt team for a 73-yard touchdown return that would turn into the deciding score in the game.
USF got the ball back with a chance to drive down the field and win the game but was thwarted on the first play of the drive by the sack-fumble by Levine, that was recovered by Chapelle Russell in the end-zone to put the Owls up by 10.
Offensively, the Owls were led by Anthony Russo who threw for over 264 yards on the day. While the redshirt-sophomore didn’t have a touchdown on the afternoon, he made some key plays down the stretch to seal the deal.
Wide receiver Ventell Bryant had a record-setting week once again, as the graduate is now the all-time leader in receptions all time in Temple history, after becoming the all-time leader in receiving yards a week ago against Houston.
Ryquell Armstead scored the lone touchdown of the day for the Owls, a week after rushing for 210 yards and 6 touchdowns. Armstead finished the day 88 total yards, and a touchdown.
It was a strong effort for the Temple defense, which pitched a shutout in the second half after allowing 101 points total in its last two contests. Delvon Randall turned out another strong performance, with 6 total tackles, and an interception for the third consecutive game.
Quincey Roche led the way off the edge for the Owls with a sack, and 2 tackles for loss to go along with 9 total tackles on the day. His biggest play of the game came when he recovered a Blake Barnett fumble after a zone read miscommunication to put the Owls back in business immediately following an Anthony Russo interception.
Temple has now eclipsed its win total from a season ago and will look for win number eight on the road at UConn next Saturday. For the Bulls, it was their fourth straight loss, and they will look to rebound against UCF next week.