WRITTEN BY TOM HANSLIN @tomhanslin
PHILADELPHIA– Temple football quarterback PJ Walker collected three touchdown passes for 170 yards in front of 3,500 fans at Chodoff Field on Saturday afternoon, as the Owls participated in the program’s annual spring Cherry & White Game at Edberg-Olson Hall.
The scrimmage, which consisted of the offense (White) facing the defense (Cherry), concluded with a final score of 35-25 in favor of the offense, led by a commanding five touchdowns from quarterbacks Walker and second-string sophomore Frank Nutile.
The offensive surge began with a 13-yard endzone strike from Walker to receiver Adonis Jennings in the first quarter, while redshirt junior Keith Kirkwood also connected with Walker for a 22-yard touchdown prior to halftime.
Kirkwood’s afternoon did not finish there, as he also caught a 70-yard bomb from Nutile in the third quarter, ending the game with 90 total yards on two receptions. The two other touchdowns were credited to tight end Alex Carling and halfback Jager Gardner, who combined for another 64 yards with Gardner’s catch as the game winner late in the fourth.
Senior halfback Jahad Thomas, who will serve as the starter in the backfield come September, did not participate in the game due to injury, which allowed sophomore Ryquell Armstead to carry first-team duties, powering for 25 yards on eight carries. Gardner also added seven carries for 35 yards of his own, while Travon Williams contributed a team-high 13 carries.
Temple’s defense dominated in the scrimmage’s early stages, forcing the offense to punt on the first four possessions. Sophomore Delvon Randall led the team with six tackles from the safety position, while freshman lineman Jeromy Reichner earned two of the Cherry’s six total sacks.
The Owls’ defense also forced two turnovers, as redshirt sophomore Mike DiFrancesco intercepted a deflected pass, while Daishaun Grimes recovered a third quarter fumble in the backfield.
During halftime festivities, head coach Matt Rhule announced his annual spring award recipients, which included redshirt junior wide receiver Marshall Ellick as the Offensive Most Improved Player, and redshirt senior Nate Hairston as the Defensive Most Improved Player.
The White team’s victory officially wrapped up Temple’s spring practices, as the Owls will now look forward to opening night at Lincoln Financial Field against Army on Sept. 2.
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