TEMPLE TRAVELS TO ECU FOR A CONFERENCE SHOWDOWN
Looking to bounce back after a rough conference opening the past two weeks, Temple takes to the road aiming to earn its first American victory against division opponent ECU, set to kickoff at 12:00 p.m. EST on Saturday and air nationally on ESPNU.
This past weekend, Temple came up just short in a comeback attempt against West division foe Houston, falling to the Cougars, 20-13, at Lincoln Financial Field. A few close calls stymied the Owls early, but a staunch defensive effort kept Temple withing striking distance deep into the second half. Starting QB Logan Marchi and the offense found some sparks in the run game late in the third quarter, but the Houston lead proved insurmountable as the Cougars sealed the win with a pair of late defensive stands.
Sophomore linebacker William Kwenkeu and redshirt senior defensive back Mike Jones each posted career-bests in tackles, leading the unit with seven and six, respectively.
Moving forward, the Owls aim to shake off the close loss and score their first conference victory of the season against ECU. Outside of the USF loss, the defense has been notably dominant, stlifling opposing offenses with general ease. Offensively, Temple found its footing in the run game late against the Cougars, and will continue to look to tailbacks Ryquell Armstead and David Hood for production.
As for ECU, second-year head coach Scottie Montgomery’s unit has continued to struggle, as the Pirates fell to No. 18 USF last weekend 61-31 and now sit at 1-4 on the year. In the game, ECU QB Thomas Sirk managed 302 passing yards on 20-of-43 for a pair touchdowns and two interceptions. Meanwhile, the defense failed to slow down the Bulls’ high-powered offense, as four different rushers combined for five scores and 349 yards on the ground.
LAST TIME vs. ECU
Temple and ECU last faced off in late November last season, where the Owls dropped the Pirates 37-10 for the team’s sixth straight victory. Behind top-tier efforts from senior RB Jahad Thomas, who gashed ECU for 152 yards and two scores, and a relentless defense, Temple dominated the matchup from start to finish. With the win, the Owls claimed the American Athletic East Division title for the second straight season, setting up Temple’s eventual victory over Navy in the conference title game later that December.
In the game, multiple current Owls showcased their talents, including a star performance from then-junior WR Adonis Jennings, who pulled in 100 yards receiving on six catches. Meanwhile, then-sophomore RB Ryquell Armstead added a pair of touchdowns.
THE FIRST TIME IN A LONG TIME
Midway through the 2015 campaign, Temple was riding a six-game win streak, starting with the notable defeat of in-state rival Penn State to open the season. Next up was game seven, a road matchup against ECU. After knocking off the Pirates, 24-14, Temple received its first ranking (No. 21) for the first time since 1979, a 36-year drought. The victory set up a College Gameday visit for the ensuing week’s home battle against Notre Dame, a first for the program.
NOT JUST ANOTHER ROAD GAME
The road matchup in Greenville, N.C., will mark redshirt senior Mike Jones’ first return as a player to the state of North Carolina, where he competed for four seasons with North Carolina Central. Since joining the Owls, Jones has been an instant impact on the outside, grabbing his first interception against Notre Dame and recording a career-high six tackles last week versus Houston.
Junior S Delvon Randall has been making noise in the secondary since last season. This year, though, things have been different, as the Pittsburgh native has flourished as the do-it-all type of athlete. Currently, Randall leads the team in tackles (40) and ranks 16th nationally in solo tackles, including three TFLs, one sack and one interception.
The Owls return home to Lincoln Financial Field for their annual homecoming game on Saturday, October 14. Temple will take on division rival UConn, aiming to build on their current three-game win-streak over the Huskies.