The Temple Owls shut out UConn Huskies, 21-0
East Hartford, Connecticut – The Temple Owls got off to a quick 21-0 lead with :20 remaining in the first quarter. Thereafter, they dominated the UConn Huskies (3-7, 1-5) defensively to keep the score intact for the 21-0 finale. UConn started Frosh QB Donovan Williams in place of Soph Bryant Shirreffs who started every previous game. HC Bob Diaco hoped that the change would spark some offense after three straight losses. It didn’t work. The win keeps the Owls ahead of South Florida who they defeated two weeks ago for the AAC East because of their head-to-head win as the 2016 regular season winds down.
For Collegefootballfan.com, Guest Game Analyst Matt Wylie (Suffolk University) and I were waylaid by traffic conditions from Stamford to East Hartford. Typically Fridays are a bad night for travel in Connecticut, but conditions were exasperated by an earlier vehicular fire on I-95 that forced us to take a chance on the Merritt Parkway. On I-91, an accident about 8 miles from Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, home of the Huskies, caused lane closures that delayed us an extra half hour. Matt and I took our seats with the Temple Owls ahead leading already, 14-0. I used reports off the ESPN website to find out what we missed before we got there for this report.
We missed two Temple Owl drives finished with touchdown passes from QB PJ Walker to RB Jahad Thomas, former teammates at Elizabeth, NJ High school. The first Owl drive resulted in a 23-yard TD pass, and their second finished with Thomas (73 yards receiving, two TDs, 83 yards rushing on 16 carries) hauling it in from ten yards away. Walker (12 of 18 for 215 yards, three TDs, two INTs) completed his first eight passes of the evening. We just missed UConn’s subsequent drive led by Williams that resulted in a missed 45-yard FG. Leading 14-0, Temple started its next possession from its 23. Enter Collegefootballfan.com. With :20 left in the first period, TE Romond Deloatch caught a pass over the middle and ran it in for an 18-yard TD and the 21-0 lead. It looked like the game was going to be blow-out.
UConn’s offense continued to sputter despite the change at QB. Along the sideline, Diaco continuously shouted encouragement and clapped his hands hoping to see some improvement. Despite Diaco’s optimism, the Temple Owls outgained the Huskies in total offense by the end of the game 431 yards to 160. Williams accounted for 69 passing yards (12 for 21) and 66 rushing yards on 16 carries despite five sacks by the Owls. RB Ryquell Armstead accounted for 133 Temple rushing yards on 20 carries.
Though dominating the game clock and sustaining long drives, the Temple Owls’ offense failure to score again can be attributed to one UConn bright spot. Husky S Obi Melifonwu stopped two potential scoring drives with interceptions in the end zone. The first came in the second period halting a 54-yard drive, and the second came in the final stanza ending an 87-yard drive. His tight coverage and closing speed have him under consideration as one of the best DBS in next spring’s pro draft.
One step closer to AAC East title
The Temple Owls (7-3, 5-1) have a bye next Saturday before traveling to Tulane (currently 3-6,0-5) before finishing up the season at Lincoln Financial to host East Carolina (currently 3-6,1-4). Winning both gets them into the AAC Championship as the East champ on December 3. HC Matt Rhule and his staff continue to improve this team especially on defense after three key stalwarts graduated from last year’s team and are now on NFL rosters. We hope to see them in the post season in this game and possibly in the Military Bowl in Annapolis which is one to the AAC’s post-season affiliations.
UConn also has a bye week coming up which could give Diaco time to work with his offense that now seems to need a lot more improvement. They will be visiting Boston College (currently 4-5, 1-5) on November 19 for a short and hopefully expeditious trip by bus up to Chestnut Hill. They will finish their season at home to Tulane.
Matt and I headed back to his place in Stamford. He was heading to Maine the next morning as I was getting up early to meet Brian Donnelly for an early start to be at West Point for the 12-noon kickoff for the Air Force-Army game.
Extra points: Matt and I met for a late lunch/early dinner (“Lunner”?) at Bobby Valentine’s Sports Bar at 225 Main in Stamford. Great burgers there and plenty of sports memorabilia all over the place. Great place to watch games and eat some good sports bar food. Matt says the place was packed for the World Series. Bobby V., the former major league player for the Dodgers and manager for the New York Mets and the Chiba Lotte Marines of Nippon Professional Baseball League among others, is now the Athletic Director at Sacred Heart University in nearby Fairfield. Their FCS record in the Northeast Conference this season is 6-3, 1-3.
Matt gave me some direction on the value and use of Instagram for my website. I’m going to check things out after the 2016 season.