PHILADELPHIA -The Temple Owls showed up to play in their final home game of the 2018 season against the University of South Florida. It was a tale of two halves. The Owls were outscored 17-0 in the first half, but got the comeback win after scoring 27 straight points leading to a final score of 27-17.
The USF Bulls struck first with a touchdown run by junior running back Jordan Cronkrite early in the first quarter, which put them up by seven. The Owls defense adjusted after letting up a few big runs and contained the USF offense for the rest of the first quarter. However, the Owls offense struggled to get going and more importantly, the rushing game struggled early on. In his senior day, running back Ryquell Armstead had seven carries for zero yards in the first quarter. At the end of the first, the score remained 7-0.
The Bulls threatened early in the second quarter but had to settle for a field goal after their offense could not find the end zone against the Owl’s defense. For most of the second quarter, both teams struggled to move the ball, resulting in a lot of punts. There was a total of nine punts in the first half alone.
The Bulls put together a big drive towards the end of the first half, as Cronkrite got his second touchdown of the game from a one-yard run. The Owls were shutout in the first half as the score was 17-0 going into halftime.
The Owls allowed 140 rushing yards in the first half, compared to their own 31 yards on the ground. Cronkrite led the charge for the Bulls running game tallying 82 yards at the half.
Cronkrite ended the game with a total of 83 rushing yards and two touchdowns, as the Owls found a way to stop him in the second half.
“The first half wasn’t us,” said Collins, “That’s not our brand of football, we come out and we strike first, we start fast, we’re physical, we’re tough.”
The Bulls got the ball to start the second half, but it was the Owls who had the momentum as they scored about halfway through the third quarter courtesy of an Armstead rushing touchdown to make it 17-7.
Armstead ended the contest with 64 yards and a touchdown.
Both teams then suffered a couple of turnovers, but it was Temple who took advantage of a fumble, turning it into a 34-yard field goal by Will Mobley to make it 17-10. The score stayed the same as it went into the fourth quarter.
The entire team rallied around each other for the last half of the senior game. Sophomore defensive end Quincy Roche really wanted to pull out the win for the seniors on the team, especially coming out of the second half.
“We wanted to play for the seniors, what the seniors did, gave a lot to this program,” said Roche. “The least we could do, is come out and play as hard as we can for those guys.”
The momentum that the Owls were building finally got them the lead in the fourth. Early in the quarter, Temple kicked another field goal that made the score 17-13 and junior receiver Isaiah Wright found the end zone after a 73-yard punt return. The Owls were in full control as they had scored 27 unanswered points in the second half.
Wright talked about his key punt return that shifted the lead for the Owls.
“I let him put himself in a position to lose,” said Wright. “You got to stay outside.”
The Owls defense really stepped up as they limited the Bulls to 44 rushing yards in the second half. Every aspect of the Owls game had completely changed in the second half. They ultimately sealed their victory by stopping USF on defense with a fumble that they returned for a touchdown. This made the score 27-17.
The Owls move to a record of 7-4, while the Bulls fall to the same record. Temple is 6-1 in the American Athletic Conference, and USF is 3-4. With the win last week, the Owls are bowl eligible because of their win against Houston. The Owls wrap up their season on the road, with a match against UConn. UConn currently sits with a record of 1-9.