Story by Martin Shnayder
In last year’s 27-10 upset of Penn State, the Owls went down early in that one 10-0 before scoring 27 unanswered points for their first win against the Nittany Lions in 74 years. So, it’s safe to assume that Temple fans weren’t panicking when their team went down 7-0 early in this game.
Unfortunately, there was no Cinderella story for Temple on this day. Penn State was able to extract their revenge in front of their home crowd at Beaver Stadium defeating the Owls 34-27 in what was a sloppy game despite fair weather conditions.
There was three main reasons why Temple were able to defeat Penn State last year; They ran the ball efficiently for 149 yards, they stayed disciplined committing only 5 penalties for 35 yards, and they applied pressure on the quarterback with a season high 10 sacks in that game.
Matt Rhule’s squad did none of those three things well this year and that ultimately lead to their demise Saturday afternoon in Happy Valley. The Owls ran for a paltry 38 yards on 28 attempts for a ghastly 1.8 yards per carry average, they committed a terrifying 13 penalties for 118 yards, and didn’t put much of any pressure on sophomore quarterback Tracey McSorley all game.
The Nittany Lions were far from perfect themselves, as they committed three turnovers in the game compared to Temple’s lone turnover which occurred on the final drive of the game. However, it was Penn State’s big play ability against a soft Temple defense that was the difference maker. James Franklin’s offense had scores of 52 and 55 yards, and another 25 yard completion that set up the third touchdown of the game for Penn State.
Phillip Walker played a solid game going for 25/34 for 286 yards and an interception that came with 30 seconds left to seal the game for the Nittany Lions. It was the offensive line and their lack of discipline that really failed Temple’s offense in this game.
With 5:14 remaining in the third quarter Matt Rhule went deep into his playbook calling for a modified version of a flea flicker. Walker threw a beauty into the end zone for a touchdown; however, the play was called back after senior offensive lineman Dion Dawkins was called for an illegal block in the back. The Owls ended up having to punt on this drive.
After Temple’s defense came up with a huge interception on the ensuing Penn State drive, the Temple offense started their post-turnover drive with a false start penalty. Despite this, Phillip Walker managed to score a touchdown with a great leap over the end zone on 4th and goal to cut the lead to 24-16. Penn State would then commit an offside penalty on the extra point attempt, which lead Matt Rhule to send his offense back out on the field to go for two and attempt to make it a six point game. However, that idea would be short lived after Temple committed yet another false start penalty and settled for the extra point instead. In the end, the Owls inability to stop shooting themselves in the foot cost them. They committed 6 penalties in the third quarter, en route to committing 13 for the game.
On top of that, clock management was an issue as Matt Rhule had to burn two timeouts early in the second half, which left Temple with only one timeout trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter. The offense took their time with a field goal drive late in the fourth quarter, and by the time they received the ball back on their own 15 yard line with 37 seconds left to play they had no timeouts and no hope. Phillip Walker’s interception right into the hands of a Penn State linebacker sealed the game. The kind of football played Saturday afternoon by Temple is not a recipe for success when you’re playing on the road in a hostile environment like the one at Happy Valley. It’s back to the drawing board for Temple football as they seem to have taken a step back in year four under Matt Rhule.
News and Notes:
- Jahad Thomas played in his first game of the season totaling 100 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns.
- A lone bright spot for Temple’s defense on Saturday was their ability to shut down Penn State’s rushing attack as the Nittany Lions only had a 3.1 ypc average. They held highly skilled Penn State running back Saquon Barkley to only 68 yards in the game; however, one of his carries went long for a 55 yard touchdown.
- http://gty.im/495180820 Temple’s defense is clearly not the same one from a year ago as they surrounded 403 total yards to Penn State with 253 coming in the first half.
- Temple will have to wait to get their revenge against Penn State as the two teams are not scheduled to meet in 2017.
- Up next for the Owls is their homecoming game, as they look to get back to .500 against the Charlotte 49ers at Lincoln Financial Field on September 24th.