The #19/17 Rutgers Scarlet Knights scored on their first four possessions of the second half to comeback from a 10-0 halftime deficit and defeat the Temple Owls, 35-10, Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field. The game was played in front of the 35,145 fans, the third largest crowd to watch a Temple game in the 10 years the Owls have been playing in the venue. Temple falls to 3-3, 2-1 in BIG EAST play, while Rutgers improves to 7-0, 4-0 in conference play.
The game was a tale of two halves as Temple, wearing new black uniforms, used a strong run game, which accounted for 81 yards against Rutgers' defense that entered the contest ranked second nationally against the run (60.8 ypg.). The Owls defense was imposing, holding the Scarlet Knights to 100 total yards while keeping them off the scoreboard.
Temple took a 7-0 lead as junior QB Chris Coyer connected with junior TE Cody Booth for a four-yard TD reception with under a minute to go in the opening quarter. Booth made a nice diving catch on the ball that was deflected by Owls' sophomore RB Kenny Harper on the third and goal play.
Booth's TD was the culmination of an eight-play, 46-yard drive that included a nice 14-yard completion to sophomore WR Jalen Fitzpatrick to the Rutgers 10.
Senior kicker Brandon McManus, who earlier missed a field goal from 48 yards, connected on one from 49 yards with 2:01 remaining in the half to extend the Owls lead to 10-0. The Temple drive was also aided by a McManus 68-yard punt, the longest of his career, that pinned RU inside its 10.
The Owls could have led by more, but Coyer (7-14-1, 65 yds) fumbled on a fourth-and-one at the RU 27 on the Owls opening drive. It halted an impressive 11-play possession that included 10 rushes for 45 yards. Senior RB Montel Harris, who had 81 yards on 19 carries, accounted for 24 of those yards.
Temple's defense allowed only 110 yards in the first half and just four first downs. Sophomore SS Chris Hutton, who started in place of senior Vaughn Carraway (suspended by the conference for a hit in the UConn win), forced a fumble at the start of the second quarter that was recovered by senior SS Justin Gildea. It was one of two turnovers the Owls defense forced over the first 30 minutes as freshman DB Tavon Young intercepted Rutgers QB Gary Nova's pass to end the half.
The second half was all Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights came out looking like the team that is ranked 15th in the latest BCS poll, scoring touchdowns on its first four possessions and then capping a run of 35 straight points with a Khaseem Greene 20 yard TD off a fumble by Coyer with just under 11 minutes remaining.
The Owls defense looked like a different unit in the third quarter, allowing 223 yards over the 15 minutes and 21 points. Nova had no problem moving his team down the field, completing 11 of 13 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore RB Jawan Jamison (19 rushes, 114 yds) had 109 total yards in the quarter, 53 on the ground on seven carries, and another 56 on four catches, including a 32-yard TD catch that gave RU the lead for good at 14-10.
Nova, who finished the day 17-of-27 for 232 yards and four TDs, also connected on TD passes to Tim Wright (32 yds) and Mark Harrison (5 yds) in the quarter. He added a fourth TD pass to D.C. Jefferson (10 yds) on the team's first drive of the fourth quarter.
Offensively, the Owls were unable to answer the Scarlet Knights, accumulating just 48 yards and two first downs. Coyer, who rarely turns the ball over, missed on all four of his passes, and was intercepted for just the third time. He did rush for 17 yards while Harris had 31 yards on five carries.
With the game out of reach following Greene's fumble return, Temple coach Steve Addazio substituted freely, with junior QB Clinton Granger seeing his first action behind center since the final minutes of the Villanova game. In all, the Owls played 18 total freshmen with a season-high 11 true freshmen seeing the field.
Temple travels to Pittsburgh next Saturday to take on the Panthers. Kickoff is scheduled for Noon on the BIG EAST Network (6ABC locally) and being broadcast by 1210 AM WPHT.