By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Philadelphia, PA – The Houston Cougars looked like a different team against the Temple Owls.
The Cougars, who dominated Southern in their home opener last Friday night, could not even muster a touchdown against the Owls until the final minute of play. Last weekend, they had 8 touchdowns against the Jaguars defense.
Yet, the Owls held the Cougars to all field goal kicks for much of the game. But the Owls could not muster any scoring plays in the second half, as they lost 22-13 this afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
“This team will be back,” said Temple coach Matt Rhule. “We’re just going to keep getting better and better. I think everyone will see a team that wins a lot of games. There are just some things we have to correct: we have to correct the kicking situation, we can’t have turnovers, and there were a couple penalties that hurt us.”
The Owls had three turnovers, while the Cougars had two. And the team that typically loses the turnover battle loses the game, as the Owls dropped to 0-2 on the season, while the Cougars improved to 1-1 on the season.
The game was the first-ever American Athletic Conference to be played. But Temple has never beat the Cougars, as they have now dropped to 0-3 all-time in the series.
The last meeting between the two teams, before Houston joined the American Athletic Conference this season, came in 1989. Temple would lose 65-7 in that game at the Astrodome.
The Cougars had 521 yards of offense in this game to go with the 640 yards from last week to surpass 1,000 yards of total offense in two games. But unlike their previous game, Houston struggled in the end zone.
“They are really good at what they do,” said Rhule. “I wish we would have had a little bit more pressure [on them]. There’s so many details that we’re not doing. We’re going to keep coaching until they get it.”
Cougars quarterback John O’Korn went 15 of 21 for a 157 yards and was sacked once, while David Piland came in and went 6 of 17 for 72 yards. Deontay Greenberry had 14 receptions for a 165 yards, while Xavier Maxwell added 8 receptions for 75 yards.
Connor Reilly did not fair much better for the Owls. He was 15 of 24 for 158 yards. He was sacked twice, and also threw an interception. Ryan Alderman led the Owls with 4 receptions for 46 yards, while Jalen Fitzpatrick contributed 3 receptions for 38 yards.
Owls running backs Zaire Williams had 57 rushing yards, while Kenny Harper had 47 yards and two touchdowns. Cougars backs Kenneth Farrow had 78 yards, while Ryan Jackson had 70 yards and a touchdown.
With 1:06 left in the game, Jackson scored the Cougars lone touchdown in the game. He went 10 yards on a hand off into the end zone to seal the win.
Richie Leone would add two second half goals. He would make two third quarter field goals – one from 24 yards and the other from 22 yards.
The Cougars counted on the foot of Leone for their first half scores. Leone kicked a 40-yard field goal in the first quarter, before adding two 19-yard field goals in the second quarter. He was just one field goal shy of tying the school record of 6 field goals in a game.
Kenny Harper had both of the Temple scoring plays, as he had a one-yard rushing touchdown as well as a three-yard rushing touchdown in the first half. On Harper’s first touchdown, the Owls missed the extra point.
“We had chance to win against a very good Houston offense,” said Rhule. “There are obviously some things we need to get better at and we will. I know that our players want to win and will find ways to continue to get better as the year goes on.”
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