Nov 19, 2022; Greenville, North Carolina, USA;  East Carolina Pirates running back Keaton Mitchell (2) runs with the ball against the Houston Cougars during the first half at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

East Carolina looking to regain momentum at Temple

East Carolina and Temple meet in their regular-season finale Saturday at Philadelphia with both coming off losses to American Athletic Conference foes.

East Carolina (6-5, 3-4 AAC) won three straight games to become bowl eligible, including a win at BYU, before losing 27-25 at Cincinnati.

The Pirates were routed 42-3 at home by Houston last week.

“We just didn’t have a good day,” said quarterback Holton Ahlers, who completed 15 of 30 passes for 182 yards. “Pretty much everything that could have went wrong went wrong. It was a tough one. I would have done anything to win that game.”

Keaton Mitchell gained a career-high 128 yards on 14 carries but it wasn’t enough as East Carolina was forced to punt six times.

Temple (3-8, 1-6) lost 23-3 at home against Cincinnati last week after succumbing 43-36 the week before at Houston.

The Owls were beset by four turnovers against the Bearcats.

Cincinnati controlled the time of possession 36:51 to 23:09.

Temple, which had 202 yards of total offense, was led defensively by linebacker Layton Jordan. He had 2.5 sacks to increase his season total to nine.

“We’ve just got to address the offense’s production, or lack thereof, and rally the troops and see if we can get that fixed this week for our last game, especially for our seniors,” Temple coach Stan Drayton said. “When you play against a good team like Cincinnati, you just can’t have turnovers and the mistakes that we made.”

Ahlers has 3,094 passing yards, eighth most in a single season in East Carolina history.

Mitchell has produced five-straight 100-yard performances, seven this season overall and 13 for his career.

He surpassed 1,000 yards this season (with 1,103), becoming the first Pirate since Tay Cooper (2012-13) to record consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

Temple quarterback E.J. Warner has thrown for 2,501 yards, with 223 completions in 380 attempts, which are all school freshman records. He ranks sixth, fourth and sixth, respectively, in Temple’s single-season records in those categories.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Temple Owls wide receiver Jose Barbon (10) is tackled by Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Arquon Bush (9) after a catch during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

No. 25 Cincinnati uses big plays early to bury Temple

Ben Bryant and Tre Tucker hooked up for an early 42-yard touchdown pass as No. 25 Cincinnati rolled over host Temple 23-3 on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Ryan Montgomery added a TD run for the Bearcats (9-2, 6-1 American Athletic Association), who sit in a first-place tie with Tulane with one week left in the regular season.

Bryant went 9 of 18 for 130 yards without a turnover before leaving with a foot injury in the second quarter. Evan Prater came on and completed 12-of-17 passes for 127 yards while also playing turnover-free football.

The Owls (3-8, 1-6), meanwhile, committed four turnovers and were outgained 388-202 on the day. E.J. Warner went 21 of 36 for 167 yards with two interceptions, while Temple failed to gain more than nine yards on any of its 19 rushing attempts.

Cincinnati suffocated Temple in the first half, holding the Owls to 106 total yards, including seven yards on nine rushes.

Temple punted on its first three possessions before the Bearcats opened the scoring on Bryant’s 42-yard TD bomb to Tucker, who snuck behind two defenders for the score with 1:19 to play in the first quarter.

Edward Saydee fumbled on the Owls’ next play, and the Bearcats recovered. Three plays later, Montgomery slipped through the teeth of the Temple defense for a 14-yard TD run.

Cincinnati tacked on a 28-yard field goal by Ryan Coe on its next possession to take a 17-0 lead with 9:55 remaining until halftime. About 1 1/2 minutes later, Temple got on the board with a field goal of its own — a 43-yarder by Camden Price.

Coe accounted for all the second-half scoring with a 37-yard field goal midway through the third quarter and a 24-yard boot early in the fourth.

The Owls only possessed the ball four times in the second half. Those trips ended in two punts, an interception and a fumble.

Montgomery finished with 14 carries for 58 yards, while Tucker secured four receptions for 78 yards. Tight end Josh Whyle led the Bearcats with seven catches, totaling 70 yards.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Memphis Tigers quarterback Seth Henigan (5) scrambles during the first half against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Surging Memphis returns to AAC play vs. Temple

Memphis will look to extend its winning streak to four games and remain atop the American Athletic Conference standings when it hosts Temple on Saturday.

The Tigers (3-1, 1-0) are coming off a 44-34 non-conference victory over North Texas. Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan threw for two touchdowns, Brandon Thomas rushed for two, and Jaylon Allen and Xavier Cullens each returned an interception for a score.

“There’s no time to sit there and reflect on ‘OK, how do we improve and get better on that stuff.’ Every week’s a different season. We’re not searching for answers,” Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said. “There’s none of that. It’s how do we execute and get better at a higher level.”

Temple (2-2, 0-0) heads to Memphis after a 28-0 victory over UMass in the Owls’ first shutout since 2016.

Temple quarterback E.J. Warner, the son of Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner, went 11 of 22 for 173 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions to pick up his first win as a starter. Layton Jordan returned an interception 41 yards for the Owls, who bounced back from a 16-14 loss to Rutgers the previous week.

After Memphis’ Henigan went 19 of 30 passing for 165 yards and a TD in a season-opening 49-23 loss at Mississippi State, he’s gone 62 of 91 for 916 yards with seven touchdowns and an interception with two rushing touchdowns during the winning streak.

Five Tigers have caught at least 10 passes this season, with tight end Caden Prieskorn leading the team with 15 catches.

For Temple, Warner has gone 44 of 73 passing for 561 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Adonicas Sanders has 17 catches for 236 yards and a TD.

Temple defeated Memphis for the second time in three seasons last year by rallying from a 17-0 deficit to pull out a 34-31 victory at Philadelphia.

“Personally, I believe that we will be ready for (Memphis), because we got (experience against) a passing team and multiple running teams,” Temple safety Alex Odom said. “So we’re probably gonna get a mixture of both from Memphis.”

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights defensive back Desmond Igbinosun (4) tackles Temple Owls running back Edward Saydee (23) in the first half at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Shaquan Loyal’s interception return helps Rutgers edge Temple

Shaquan Loyal returned an interception 43 yards for a touchdown as Rutgers relied on its defense and special teams to beat host Temple 16-14 in nonconference play on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Temple used a big stop with 7:05 left in the fourth quarter to keep Rutgers (3-0) from extending its two-point lead. But the Scarlet Knights stymied the Owls (1-2) on fourth and 4 with 2:25 remaining and closed out the win.

Jude McAtamney made three of four field-goal attempts for Rutgers, the longest coming from 45 yards away.

Rutgers starting quarterback Evan Simon threw for just 52 yards on 9-of-15 passing. Johnny Langan led the Rutgers offense with 79 rushing yards.

Temple redshirt freshman E.J. Warner, the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, made his first collegiate start at quarterback. He completed 19 of 32 passes for 215 yards, with a touchdown and the fateful pick-six.

Temple outgained Rutgers in total yards, 264-201.

Warner found Adonicas Sanders (eight receptions, 90 yards) for a big fourth-and-3 completion in Rutgers territory during the first quarter. Three plays later, Quincy Patterson subbed in for a designed quarterback run and barreled in for a 1-yard touchdown.

McAtamney booted his 45-yard field goal to cut it to 7-3 with 1:09 left in the first quarter.

Loyal’s big play came with 6:05 remaining in the half. The defensive back blitzed, batted Warner’s pass into the air, caught it on the run and took it to the house to give the Scarlet Knights the lead.

Rutgers stuffed Temple on fourth down on the Owls’ ensuing possession, but couldn’t capitalize as McAtamney missed from 38 yards in the final minute of the half. It remained 10-7 Rutgers at the break.

McAtamney, a native of Ireland, made a 25-yard chip shot during the third quarter and added a 38-yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter to extend Rutgers’ lead to 16-7.

But Warner hooked up with tight end Jordan Smith on the next Temple drive, and Smith spun out of a tackle and sprinted for a 47-yard touchdown to make it 16-14 with 14:15 left.

Simon took a 15-yard sack on third and 8, which knocked the Scarlet Knights out of field goal range and forced them to punt midway through the fourth. But Temple stalled around midfield and Warner threw an incomplete pass on fourth down.

After Temple burned through its timeouts, Langan powered through the middle on a third-and-2 situation and went 17 yards, stopping shy of a touchdown on purpose to let the clock bleed out.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2022; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; Rutgers Scarlet Knights quarterback Evan Simon (3) throws a pass against the Wagner Seahawks during the second half at SHI Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

QB decisions ahead as unbeaten Rutgers faces Temple

Rutgers could start 3-0 for the second straight season if it defeats host Temple on Saturday at Philadelphia.

The Scarlet Knights’ 3-0 start in 2021 began with a 61-14 thrashing of Temple, but Rutgers coach Greg Schiano thought their opponent played better than the final score showed.

“That score was not indicative of what that game was,” Schiano said Monday. “That score was based on takeaways. We struggled to move the football against their defense, and I think their defense is playing well again.”

Rutgers’ defense had two interceptions (one returned for a score), three fumble recoveries and a safety in last year’s win, which extended its winning streak in the all-time series to five.

The Scarlet Knights (2-0) opened the season with a 22-21 comeback win at Boston College, followed by last week’s 66-7 victory over FCS Wagner. Evan Simon and Gavin Wimsatt, splitting snaps at quarterback in place of injured senior Noah Vedral, each threw their first career touchdown passes in that game.

Vedral is recovering from an upper-body injury, and Schiano said it’s still too early to know whether the quarterback could return this week. Wimsatt, a former four-star recruit, got the start against Wagner.

Temple (1-1) got in the win column with a 30-14 victory last Saturday over FCS Lafayette after the Owls opened their season with a 30-0 loss at Duke.

The Owls were tied with Lafayette 7-7 after one quarter, with starting quarterback D’Wan Mathis losing two fumbles. First-year coach Stan Drayton subbed in freshman E.J. Warner, the son of Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, who led Temple to victory with 173 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-19 passing.

“The way he handled the pressure … he didn’t flinch,” Drayton told reporters. “He went out there and executed the offense, didn’t try to step outside himself, went out there and put the ball where it needed to be.”

Temple listed Warner as its starting quarterback against Rutgers on the depth chart, but Drayton did not confirm he would have the job going forward.

Running backs Darvon Hubbard and Edward Saydee rushed for 59 and 55 yards respectively and scored a touchdown apiece against Lafayette.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Navy Midshipmen running back Carlinos Acie (25) is tackled by Notre Dame Fighting Irish safety DJ Brown (2) in the first quarter at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Temple ends turbulent season with finale against Navy

It was a win that held such promise for Temple — 34-31 over Memphis in its American Athletic Conference opener — as their gifted new quarterback threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns.

With D’Wan Mathis — a 6-foot-6, dual-threat transfer from Georgia — running the show, it was exciting to consider the possibilities for the Owls.

But eight weeks later, Temple (3-8, 1-6) can’t wait for the season to end. The Owls have lost six straight games, none by fewer than 20 points, and their quarterback with the tantalizing talent has an uncertain future after announcing he was leaving the school and then reversing course a few days later.

Mathis was one of six scholarship players this year to declare he was departing a program that has fallen into disrepair under third-year coach Rod Carey. On their way out, some of the players have ripped Carey and his staff via social media.

It’s been a humbling downward spiral for Temple, which finishes its season Saturday against visiting Navy (2-8, 2-5).

“Guys, they leave for different reasons — reasons that, a lot of them, they haven’t really talked to me about,” Carey said. “That’s OK. That’s their business.”

It’s been a trying season as well for Navy, encapsulated by a 38-35 loss last Saturday to visiting East Carolina. The Midshipmen were on the verge of an upset of the bowl-bound Pirates, leading by eight points with six minutes left, but lost on a 54-yard field goal at the gun by Owen Daffer.

“This is a hard one,” Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “There’s been some tough losses this year. This one was obviously No. 1.”

With Army (7-3) still on the schedule, Navy still has much to play for. The positive for the Mids on Saturday was the play of their offense, which ranks last in the AAC but rolled up 345 yards rushing — led by Carlinos Acie’s 155 yards on six carries.

Temple will counter with quarterback Justin Lynch, who held the job early in the year, then lost it before regaining it when Mathis went down with an ankle injury.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) passes the ball against Tulane Green Wave during the first half at Yulman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Seeking 9th straight win, Houston visits upset-minded Temple

Since dropping its opener to Texas Tech, Houston has transformed into one of the best teams in the country.

The Cougars, ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25, will be looking for their ninth consecutive victory and a berth in the American Athletic Conference championship for the first time since 2015 when they visit Temple on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Houston (8-1, 6-0 AAC) last won nine in a row in 2015. It won a wild 54-42 game last Saturday at South Florida.

“We’ve made progress this year,” Cougars head coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We’re excited about playing another meaningful game in November.”

While Houston looks to be a heavy favorite against the reeling Owls (3-6, 1-4), nothing is guaranteed. That much was proven in the 12-point victory over the two-win Bulls.

“It’s hard to keep winning,” Holgorsen said. “You’re gonna get everyone’s best shot. You better prepare for the game.”

If Houston hopes to continue its winning streak, it will need to execute better against Temple.

The Cougars allowed 399 total yards to USF and also surrendered a pair of 100-yard kickoff returns.

While the wins keep adding up, there is a massive room for improvement.

“Defensively, we didn’t play our best game,” Holgorsen said. “We didn’t get to the quarterback. … What happened on the kickoff returns was unacceptable. It’s been a real problem and we’ve got to get it fixed.”

However, quarterback Clayton Tune continued to excel, completing 21 of 26 passes for 385 yards and three touchdowns.

“I’ve just kind of learned to tune out the noise and not really worry about what people are saying because it doesn’t really matter,” Tune said. “What matters is what the team thinks and what I think and the ability that I know that I have.”

Temple will hope to avoid a fifth consecutive loss when it faces Houston.

Following a thrilling 34-31 victory over Memphis on Oct. 2, the Owls have been outscored 180-27 in losses to No. 2 Cincinnati, South Florida, UCF and East Carolina.

Temple was crushed 45-3 last week against the Pirates as it missed two early field goals, fell behind 21-0 and never recovered.

Despite the struggles, head coach Rod Carey insists that the team remains focused.

“We’re in this together and they understand that,” Carey said. “We’ve had these discussions and they’ll continue to stay together. They’re a pretty bonded group.”

The youthful Owls were expected to endure some growing pains this season. Just not to this degree.

All they can do is regroup and attempt to pull off a stunning upset against the ever-improving Cougars.

“As you go through it, I don’t make excuses,” Carey said. “We have to coach them better. There’s a lot of youth. Even with the older guys back there’s a lot of youth and inexperience. We have to coach them better and get them moving in the right direction.”

It’s unclear who will start at quarterback for Temple — D’Wan Mathis or Justin Lynch. Mathis is banged up and wasn’t on the practice field Monday.

Both quarterbacks struggled mightily against East Carolina.

“We’re going day by day,” Carey said. “We’ll plan for him (Mathis) being available. Justin has to prepare and get ready as well.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Orlando, Florida, USA; East Carolina Pirates quarterback Holton Ahlers (12) runs the ball against East Carolina Pirates safety Jonathan Coleman II (37) during the first quarter at Bounce House. Mandatory Credit: Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Temple, needing wins to rescue bowl hopes, faces East Carolina

Temple will hope to avoid a fourth consecutive loss when it battles East Carolina on Saturday in Greenville, S.C.

Since defeating Memphis 34-31 on Oct. 2, the Owls (3-5, 1-3 American Athletic Conference) were blitzed 52-3 by then-No. 5 Cincinnati, 34-14 by South Florida and then 49-7 by UCF last week.

“Penalties and turnovers and bad situational football certainly put the score where it was,” Temple coach Rod Carey said of the latest defeat.

Temple’s rushing defense has been an issue all season, especially in the three consecutive losses. The Owls surrendered 199 rushing yards to the Knights.

“We had one starting secondary guy out there,” Carey said. “We aren’t going to use that as an excuse, though.”

One of Temple’s goals this season was to qualify for a bowl game. For that to happen, the Owls would have to finish at least 6-6.

Reaching a bowl game would be a major long shot with a loss to the Pirates.

“We’re just going to take them one at a time and again, we will count them up and see where we are at,” Carey said.

East Carolina will be looking for its second straight win when it hosts Temple.

The Pirates (4-4, 2-2) defeated South Florida 29-14 on Oct. 28, outscoring the Bulls 23-0 in the second half.

The fact that the win came on a Thursday gave East Carolina some extra preparation time heading into the upcoming game.

“It was good to get a little bit of extra rest for the kids and get a little bit more work on Temple,” East Carolina coach Mike Houston said. “We feel good going into this week, got to have a great week of practice. A big ballgame for our program Saturday. Temple is a very dangerous opponent and we’re going to have to play very, very well.”

Pirates quarterback Holton Ahlers continues to improve. He threw for 220 yards and a touchdown while also running for a season-best 78 yards on 11 carries against the Bulls.

“I thought he made really, really good decisions,” Houston said. “I don’t know if there’s a decision I really questioned that he made. I thought he was very decisive of where to go with the football. I thought he put us in good situations. I really thought, mentally, he played his best game of the year.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Temple Owls quarterback D'Wan Mathis (18) throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Temple meets UCF while trying to get back on track

Temple will look to avoid a third consecutive loss when it hosts UCF on Saturday.

Following a thrilling 34-31 victory over Memphis, the Owls (3-4, 1-2 American Athletic Conference) have since been throttled 52-3 at No. 2 Cincinnati and then fell 34-14 on Saturday at South Florida.

Temple struggled in all areas, especially against the run, as the Bulls compiled a program record 421 rushing yards.

Conversely, the Owls managed only 48 rushing yards and 183 passing yards.

The recipe turned into the 20-point loss.

“We only got to run 34 plays,” quarterback D’Wan Mathis said. “They kinda played keep away the whole night and just ran the ball, so it was tough to get into anything.”

The Owls held possession of the football for only 15 minutes. In the end, they’ll need to watch the film and regroup in trying to get back to .500.

“A lot of it was, we weren’t getting off on blocks,” Temple head coach Rod Carey said. “We were playing high at times and certainly threw the kitchen sink at them with everything in our repertoire as far as scheme, but we need to help them more as coaches and we need to play better as players.”

UCF will be searching for its second straight victory.

The Knights (4-3, 2-2) soundly defeated Memphis 24-7 last Friday thanks in large part to a strong defensive effort that included six sacks, three interceptions and three fourth down stops.

UCF didn’t allow a point in the second half.

“That was a real defense, with a capital R,” UCF head coach Gus Malzahn said. “That was an unbelievable job by the defense, harassing that quarterback. That was a thing of beauty we’re going to build on. Offense, good job with explosive plays. And that’s the way to end a game.”

After a couple of frustrating losses in the first half of the season, most notably a seven-point loss to Louisville and a four-point defeat to Navy, the Knights responded against Memphis in a big way.

“The second half of the season we’re 1-0,” Malzahn said. “Very few teams get better the second half of the season, but we showed we will.”

All four of UCF’s wins have come at home. The Knights are 0-3 on the road.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Temple Owls quarterback D'Wan Mathis (18) throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Temple tries to move over .500 in matchup with South Florida

Temple will look to move above .500 when it travels to South Florida on Saturday.

The Owls (3-3, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) will have had the last two weeks to recover from a crushing 52-3 loss to then-No. 5 Cincinnati when they battle the Bulls.

Temple quarterbacks were sacked six times by the ferocious Cincinnati defense. Temple didn’t execute well in any area.

“We’ve got to get back to work, we’ve got to keep improving,” Temple head coach Rod Carey said. “The bye week came at a good time for us, and we’ll go from there.”

To be fair, Cincinnati appears to be on the way to a berth in the College Football Playoff.

All season, the Owls have responded in a big way after a frustrating loss.

“Playing a team like that you can’t really make too many mistakes, you’ve got to be locked in and execute,” quarterback D’Wan Mathis said. “We probably didn’t do our best today but we will bounce back and do better.”

“We didn’t play good,” Carey added. “We’ve got to coach better and we’ve got to play better.”

South Florida will look to rebound after a difficult 32-31 home loss to Tulsa last Saturday.

Instead of celebrating their second victory, the Bulls fell to 1-5 overall and 1-1 in the AAC. They built an early 14-point lead and still were unable to sustain an 11-point advantage with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter.

“Our guys did not play like a 1-4 football team that have been through what they’ve been through in five games (coming into this game),” South Florida head coach Jeff Scott said. “They played their hearts out. At the end of the day, we didn’t get it done at the very end when we had some opportunities.”

The Bulls’ defense must improve if they have a chance to defeat Temple. USF allowed 535 yards against Tulsa.

But the Bulls did force three turnovers and were energized by Brian Battie’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Through six games, the Bulls have struggled to put together a consistent 60-minute performance.

“It was a gut-wrenching loss,” Scott said. “The reason it hurts is not because we were up and let it go or any of that, it hurts because our guys played their tails off.”

–Field Level Media