(Photo by Zamani Feelings)
PHILADELPHIA - The Owls hosted the undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats for a great AAC matchup. Both teams came into
the game undefeated in the conference, Temple with three wins and Cincinnati with two. Only the Owls
could stay undefeated in the conference after they won by a score of 24-17.
After two quick fumble recoveries by the Owls, they were set up in great field position and were able to
get both a field goal, and a Randle Jones touchdown before the first quarter was half way over. The
Cincinnati Bearcats fought back and got a rushing touchdown by Michael Warren II before the first
quarter was done, making it 10-7 going into the second quarter.
During the second quarter, both teams were evenly matched. The Bearcats were able to get a 44-yard
field goal from their kicker Cole Smith to make it 10-10. However, Smith attempted two more in the
second quarter and missed them both. Temple had a slow first half offensively and punted the ball
three times in the second quarter.
Anthony Russo went 8-17 in the first half with 57 yards. They only ran for 54 yards in the first half as
they struggled to get their offense going.Russo talked about his ability to stay poised despite struggling in the game.
“That’s just what comes for playing for Temple,” said Russo. “I think Temple TUFF means never quit no
matter the circumstances.”
In the second half, the Owls offense continued to struggle. For most of the third quarter, the score
stayed tied at 10. It was Charles McClelland who broke the tie when he ran in for a 42-yard touchdown
to put the Bearcats up 17-10 with around six minutes to go in the third quarter. The Owls offense was
forced to punt a few more times as their offense and more importantly their passing game struggled,
and they went into the fourth quarter, still down 17-10.
The fourth quarter was what it all came down to. The Owls offense had to step up and do something if
they wanted to win. Russo led his offense all the way down field following a huge 43-yard bomb to
Ventell Bryant. After a few plays on the sideline, Russo returned and threw an interception on third
down deep in Cincinnati’s territory. They then got the ball back with 4:44 left in the game and began to
drive down field getting one first down before Russo threw yet another interception that gave Cincy the
ball with 4:12 left.
The Owls defense shut down the Bearcats and got the ball for the offense one last time. Just like Russo said, this team did not quit despite having two late interceptions. The offense went on to score a game saving touchdown with 49 seconds left. Russo was able to find Branden Mack for a touchdown in the back of the endzone to tie it up and send the game into overtime.
During overtime the Owls got the ball first, and after two incompletions, Russo found Isaiah Wright for a big touchdown that put them up 24-17. The Owls defense then closed out the game with a Shaun Bradley interception to hand Cincinnati their first loss on the season.
After the game, Coach Collins talked about his defense’s resiliency.
“They did a really nice job defending what they were throwing us,” said Collins. “They did a bunch of new stuff, like everyone does when they play our defense, but our guys handled it.”
In two weeks, the Owls will play UCF, on Thursday, November 1, who has not lost in over a year, as they are currently undefeated and ranked 10th in the nation.
Post game celebration as Temple beats Cincinnati in thrilling overtime finish.