The Owls needed a win to secure their spot in the AAC Championship.
Not only did they come away victories, they dominated in every facet.
Jahad Thomas broke off a 60 yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter to put the icing on the cake, as the #25 Owls shut down UConn, 27-3.
With the victory, the Owls will compete for the conference title next Saturday in Houston. The winner of that game will likely earn a coveted spot in a New Year’s Day bowl game.
Temple struck first at the end of the first quarter. Starting at midfield, the Owls fed Jahad Thomas, as he bounced it outside and outran the defense on his way to a 9 yard touchdown run to put Temple up 7-0. Thomas had three carries for 33 yards on that drive. He ended the night with 119 yards on 20 carries, his fifth 100 yard game of 2015. His two rushing scores put him at 17 for the year, the most since Bernard Pierce in 2011.
Walker then orchestrated an 11 play drive midway to get the Owls back on the board midway through the second quarter. The junior completed 4 of 5 passes for 36 yards, finding Brandon Shippen to convert two key 3rd downs to keep the drive alive. Shippen had a season high 4 catches for 45 yards on the night.
However, UConn defense locked down in the redzone and stopped the Owls three yards short of the goal line. Austin Jones then booted home a 20 yard field goal to make it 10-0 going into the half.
On their first drive of the half, Walker and offense once again found a rhythm. Highlighted by David Hood breaking loose for a 17 yard gain, they marched 51 yards on 13 plays to set up in Husky territory. UConn once again held their ground, and Jones split the uprights again, this time from 37 yards out to extend the lead to 13-0.
With the third quarter winding down, starting on their own 37, the Owls were helped by two UConn penalties to keep the drive moving. Walker, consistent all night, made three great throws in a row. The first was hauled in by Anderson on 3rd down to move Temple inside the 10. On the next play, he delivered a perfect throw on a fade route in the endzone that was ruled a touchdown, but later overturned as Deloatch couldn’t finish the process of the catch. The call did not discourage the two. The very next play after the review, the combo hooked up again on the other side of the field and Deloatch held on to make it 20-0. Walker finished the night 19/29 for 160 yards and no turnovers.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Huskies were able to put together a drive, but Sean Chandler put an end to that. Sitting on the Temple 38, Chandler interrupted the Husky’s 7 play, 37 yard drive with an interception. He read Tim Boyle’s deep ball beautifully and extended his arms to snag the pass for his fourth interception of the year. Chandler is second to only Tyler Matakevich who has 5 picks on the season. The turnover deflated nearly all the hope UConn had left as the Owls gained possession with just over 13 minutes to go in the game.
The Huskies added a late field goal to avoid the shutout, but the Owl’s blanked the Huskies all night. Temple’s 26th nationally ranked rush defense played extraordinary. UConn halfback Arkeel Newsome was swarmed in the first half, rushing for -1 yard on 10 attempts. In games in which Newsome has carried the ball 10 or more times this season, he has averaged 82.6 yards rushing. Newsome finished with 1 yard on 13 carries, as the Owls stuffed him behind the line all night. The Husky offense was forced to six three & outs and finished with 8 possessions that resulted in under 7 yards. On the night, the offense finished with only 138 total yards.
Playing in his final home game, Tyler Matakevich did not disappoint. He racked up 11 tackles, four of which for a loss, and was flying around the field all night. Afterward, he was all smiles as he raised the AAC East trophy high in the sky.
With 10 wins in season for the first time since 1979, the Owls are set to take on Houston at 12pm next week for a shot at the AAC Championship. With the defense playing lights out, allowing 15 total points last two weeks, Temple will look continue that momentum when it matters most.