WRITTEN BY: TOM HANSLIN @tomhanslin
While Thursday night games in the National Football League have become notorious for sloppy and unsightly performances, Temple happened to epitomize that level of play in its American Athletic Conference opener in Tampa, Fla.
For the first time since 2007, the Owls’ offense did not score a single point. Instead, the unit committed six turnovers and rushed for minus-four yards as No. 21 South Florida annihilated Temple, 43-7, on Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium.
TEMPLE’S OFFENSE WAS OFFENSIVE
The Owls’ quarterbacks will certainly not remember the 21st night of September. Redshirt sophomore Logan Marchi, who started at quarterback for the fourth consecutive game, completed just 3-of-13 passes for 32 yards and three picks. His first turnover of the season came just four minutes into the game, as Bulls’ defender Deatrick Nichols returned the interception to the Owls’ 26 yard line. The ensuing drive resulted in only three points for USF (a 44-yard field goal by Nadelman), and a sloppy first quarter resulted in a 3-0 score after 15 minutes.
Freshman Todd Centeio also saw a few snaps for the second straight game, although he did not make a pass. On two carries, he rushed for minus-12 yards. Redshirt junior Frank Nutile was the third and last quarterback to see playing time, as he led Temple in completions (4-of-12) and passing yards (57). He also threw one interception at the start of the second half.
The second of Marchi’s three interceptions came with 10:40 left in the second quarter, while his third came halfway through the third quarter.
USF’s stifling defensive front, which entered Thursday allowing just 89 rushing yards per game, did not give up one positive rushing yard. On 33 total carries, Temple rushed for minus-four yards, and its leading rusher was fullback Rob Ritrovato (5 CAR, 24 YDS). The Owls’ receivers finished with just seven completions for 89 yards. Adonis Jennings and Ventell Bryant combined for four of those grabs.
SOUTH FLORIDA POUNDED THE ROCK
On 63 carries, USF racked on 312 rushing yards for four touchdowns. Tice led all halfbacks with 117 yards on 15 attempts, while D’Ernest Johnson tallied 106 yards on 24 attempts. The first touchdown of the night came on the first play of the second quarter, as Tice rushed from 47 yards out to extend the Bulls’ lead to 10-0. Eight minutes later, Flowers scrambled for a 22-yard score, and four minutes after that, Nadelman drilled his second field goal of the night – a 28-yader, which made it 20-0 Bulls with 4:45 remaining until halftime.
Tice’s second touchdown – a three-yard rush with 11:47 left in the third quarter – made the score 27-7 in favor of USF, and after two additional field goals (25, 37) from Nadelman, the Bulls led by 26 points after three. Nadelman made one last kick (44) in the fourth quarter, and Flowers tacked on the game’s final points with a one-yard touchdown rush with 7:45 remaining on the clock.
OTHER STATS, NOTES
-USF tallied only 96 passing yards, and Flowers completed 8-of-20 passes. The Bulls also finished with 22 first downs, compared to Temple’s seven. In total yardage, USF won that battle convincingly, 408-85.
-It was the 21st consecutive game in which USF scored 30 or more points – the longest active streak in Division I football.
-Temple’s lone touchdown came as a result of a strip-sack from Owls’ defensive end Jacob Martin in the second quarter. He returned the fumble 44 yards.
-The Owls committed six penalties for 51 yards, while USF committed nine penalties for 70 yards.
-36 points is the largest Temple margin of defeat since the program lost 45-3 to Penn State in 2008. Its four interceptions are tired for the most by a Temple team in a game since 1999.
-Marchi’s 23.1 completion percentage is the worst by a Temple player with at least 10 passes since Mike McGann’s 4-of-20 against Wisconsin in 2005. His minus-2.4 quarterback rating is the worst by a Temple quarterback with at least 10 pass attempts in the last 18 seasons.
Temple (2-2, 0-1) will play host to Houston (2-0) at Noon on Saturday, Sept. 30 at Lincoln Financial Field.
If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.
Michael is an award-winning radio host at WHIP Radio. He has been a staple host on WHIP’s Wake Up Call, and has recently occupied the role of Program Director for the station.