Game 539: Temple takes advantage of UMass misses, 29-21
Philadelphia – On Friday night on Lincoln Financial Field, Temple (2-1) and UMass (0-4) both played poorly but down to the wire in Collegefootball.com Game 539 that could have been a completely different result had Minuteman PK Michael Schreiner converted on several key field goals. In a sloppy game played by both teams and a Temple team that looks like it has taken a big step back from last year’s AAC championship performance, the Owls came out on top, 29-21. The Owls looked a mere shell of themselves compared to the last few years due to key graduation losses and the departure of former HC Matt Rhule who left for Baylor. Schreiner missed a 24-yarder in Q1 that bounced off the left upright failing to tie the score. He failed to do the same in Q2 from 41, and then he misfired on a 32-yarder in the final period that could have pulled UMass within five to have a chance to win down the stretch. For Dollegefootballfan.com, Game 539 disappointed us in that we had hoped to see two teams play better. Both have much room for improvement to have successful seasons.
Thirteen points in the final 1:04 of the first half gave the Owls a sudden nine-point lead to overcome a 10-7 advantage by the Minutemen. QB Logan Marchi rolled right and hit Adonis Jennings down the sideline near the pylon for a 30-yard TD with 1:04 left. A sack of QB Andrew Ford on the ensuing possession forced and recovered by TU’s DE Quincy Roche put the Owls on the UMass 18. With :10 left in the half, Marchi (22 of 37, 248 yards, 3 TDs) threw 11 yards toward the back of the end zone where Keith Kirkwood made a leaping catch for the TD. The PAT failed. On the ensuing kickoff, for some reason return man Jessie Britt took a knee at this own seven. Were the visitors giving up? The Owls took a 16-7 lead into halftime.
Heavy traffic at rush hour along 95 South into Philly just left enough time to find cheap, convenient off stadium parking, time to buy a ticket from a local scalper at a competitive price, and the opportunity to buy one of these great Philly cheese steaks at The Linc with a cold 20 oz. can of beer for dinner, just in time to sit down for the 7 p.m. kickoff. Game 539 was planned to be the first of two games this weekend.
Not the Temple program we’ve grown to admire
Right away, Temple displayed poor tackling capabilities on defense and the offense looked very disorganized until Ryquell Armistead’s 56-yard run down the right sideline to the 15 that only netted a 25-yard FG by Austin Jones. It brought the realization that the Notre Dame win over TU, with this performance along with the 16-13 win over Villanova by Temple, the previous week did not indicate a vast improvement by the Irish at this point in the young season. We shall see as the Irish schedule starts to improve in the weeks ahead. This Temple team did not resemble the same disciplined, well-organized program as seen against the likes of Penn State, Notre Dame, USF, and the Naval Academy we had witnessed the last two years under HC Matt Rhule. Granted there are new players stepping in, but the team lacks Rhule’s influence of what we’ve seen in recent Temple performances.
PK Aaron Boumerhi, evidently relegated to kickoffs and long FGs, put the Owls up by 12 with a 52-yard FG in the third. UMass showed signs of hanging on in its next possession as Ford, on third and eight, connected with Britt for a 20-yard TD to pull back within five. The Minutemen evidently weren’t giving up, but taking a knee on the final kick off of the first half still didn’t make sense. Jones, Temple’s short-range FG kicker, connected on a 37-yarder to take a shaky lead into the final period, 22-14. The Minutemen were a TD and two-point conversion away from tying the Owls.
Minutemen down to the last minute
UMass moved down field and looked to get within five, but Schreiner’s third miss seemed to take the wind out of the sails for the Minutemen offense. The D held Temple to a three and out. The Minutemen drove to the Temple 28 where they struggled, avoided a FG attempt, and gave the ball over on downs there at the TU 28. The Owls then put together a 10-play drive finishing it with a 13-yard one-handed TD catch by Isaiah Wright for a 29-14 lead with 3:48 left. Give the Minutemen credit. They drove the length of the field starting from their 24. Aided by two pass interference calls, Ford ran it in from the one to trail, 29-21. The defense forced Temple to punt again after three downs, and though UMass put up a fight until the end, a sack of QB Ross Comis, a fumble, and another fumble recovery left UMass at the 38 of Temple as the game ended. Final score, 29-21.
Too little too late for UMass. Missed FGs proved not only to detract from scoring opportunities, but proved to be momentum killers. Failing to get within striking distance or a chance to tie multiple times can challenge the entire team’s mental state and confidence. HC Mark Whipple has to determine what to do next to bolster his squad’s confidence. TE Adam Breneman was non-entity in this game with only three catches for 46 yards, but Andrew Ford found ways to keep his team competing until the end.
Next up for UMass, a trip to Tennessee (2-1), a last play loser at Florida on Saturday. Neyland Stadium will be hornets’ nest for the struggling Minutemen. Temple will have a short practice week before playing at South Florida (3-0) on Thursday night in Tampa. Right after Game 539 for Collegefootballfan.com, we sacked out a local hotel to get up at 4 am to fly out of Philadelphia International. We planned to leave on a 6 am fight to Minneapolis for our first home game to see the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Read about this one on Tuesday morning!