Temple started playing in-state competitor Penn State in 1931 and had their last win in 1941. With the Owls suffering a home loss previously to AAC conference leader Memphis, the cherry and white headed west Saturday in a blustery matchup.
With the wind chill in the 20s and a famously raucous crowd, the atmosphere was well in the Nittany Lions favor.
PSU started the opening drive on a tear. With constant struggles to put the ball in the end zone, ranking in the bottom half of the nation, RB Bill Belton cut sharply to the left on a handoff from stud QB Christian Hackenberg. As was the case in multiple games this year, the O-Line sabotaged the TD with a holding call on center Angelo Mangiro.
The Owls held on during third down resulting in kicker Sam Ficken knocking down a 29 yard field goal giving the Nittany Lions the lead. After another failed third down conversion by Temple, the defense once again was opportunistic.
Knocking the ball free from Belton, the offense was in position to take the lead starting on the opposing 33 yard line. After QB PJ Walker brought the Owls to the 12 with completions to wideouts Bradon Shippen and John Christopher, the drive stalled and kicker Austin Jones tied up the game at three with a field goal.
After a responding substantial drive, PSU was forced to punt in field goal range. The Owls once again couldn’t muster a first down going three and out.
Hackenberg’s major struggles, resulting from horrendous O-Line play, were on display as Tavon Young picked off an errant pass. The Owls couldn’t capitalize as Walker was sacked on third down by emerging DE Anthony Zettel. Both squads failed to amount yards heading into Penn State’s final drive of the half. After getting into field goal range on a dump off pass to RB Akeel Lynch, Ficken drilled a 50 yard field goal to give the home team a 6-3 lead.
After the Owls’ opening drive, highlighted by a Walker to Jalen Fitzpatrick connection, was faltered on a missed field goal by Jones, LB Tyler Matakevich came up with his first interception of the season.
With the prime chance to take the advantage, the PSU defense buried the Owls’ O-Line on 3rd and one and the cherry and white settled for a field goal. The Nittany Lions made them pay for their offensive limitations.
RB Akeel Lynch broke free on a 38 yard TD run and Walker “responded” with an INT to senior Adrian Amos. Belton put his mark on the game with a eight yard carry to find the end zone once again for PSU putting the Owls in a substantial hole.
The sophomore QB pulled through in adversity throwing a bomb to Fitzpatrick over the safety to cut the lead in half. The struggles were evident after the highlight, however. Walker was picked off by corners Christian Campbell and Grant Haley which led to a TD putting the game out of hand.
Penn State would conclude the dominant second half with a field goal to push the lead to 17 and win by the final score of 30-13 against their in-state rivals.
The Owls were outmatched on the line of scrimmage throughout the game and sans the play of Fitzpatrick, the offense once again came up short. They managed 61 yards on the ground but the issues were once again on the shoulders of Walker who threw four interceptions.
The defense came up with three turnovers are were not the focal point of giving up 30 points to Penn State.
The Owls (5-5) return to action 11/29 to face Cincinnati in their final AAC matchup in the season.