Written by: Adrian Maghacot
Photo by: Temple Athletics
Temple freshman quarterback EJ Warner threw two interceptions in a low-scoring 23-3 loss to No. 22 Cincinnati at Lincoln Financial Field.
“Stats are very telling,” Temple head coach Stan Drayton said. “We’re not gonna beat a good team with stats like that. We can’t have the turnovers and the mistakes we made.”
One of Cincinnati’s interceptions came from senior safety Jacob Dingle and the other from sophomore defensive back Byron Threats. This was Dingle’s first pick of his career.
Temple struggled on their first possession, ending with a three-and-out, but managed to stop Cincinnati from scoring on two goal-line stops, resulting in a turnover on downs.
With a minute left in the first quarter, Cincinnati redshirt senior quarterback Ben Bryant found senior wide receiver Tre Tucker for a 42-yard touchdown to give the Bearcats a seven-point lead.
The Bearcats opened the second quarter with a 14-yard rushing touchdown by senior running back Ryan Montgomery. Minutes later, junior kicker Ryan Coe made a 38-yard field goal to extend their lead to 17.
Temple was not able to cross the 50-yard line until there was nine minutes left in the second quarter, but they made it count as graduate kicker Camden Price made a 43-yard field goal to put them on the board.
The third quarter was quiet in the beginning, but Cincinnati drove down the field and had Coe kick a 37-yard field goal. After that, the Owls tried to reduce Cincinnai’s lead, but Warner was immediately intercepted.
“I’m always trying to make a play and want to get points scored,” said Warner. “Bad decision by me, and I overthrew one of them. I just got to fix that up and get ready for next week.”
Cincinnati opened the fourth quarter with a 24-yard field goal by Coe to extend their lead to 20. For the next six minutes, Warner drove the team down the field, but redshirt freshman wide receiver Zae Baines fumbled after a catch, which shifted all momentum back to the Bearcats.
During the drive, graduate wide receiver Jose Barbon caught his 123rd career reception, the ninth most in program history.
Many key Owls were unable to play against Cincinnati. Sophomore defensive end Darian Varner and redshirt senior Adonicas Sanders suffered injuries, and redshirt junior wide receiver Amad Anderson Jr. was suspended for breaking team rules. Varner will be out for the rest of the season to get his foot repaired, and Sanders is recovering from the hit he took from the Houston game last week.
To replace Temple’s injury-riddled receiving corps, Drayton added freshman walk-on Jordan Diaz.
“His family was so grateful and probably didn’t realize how much he was gonna play,” said Drayton. “You get two receivers down and like we always say, next man up.”
Bryant suffered a foot injury in the second quarter. He was ruled out at halftime, and redshirt sophomore Evan Prater took over snapping duties.
“We’re gonna tape him up and maybe he’ll be able to go back in,” said Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell. “At halftime, they couldn’t tell what was wrong with him and we wanted Evan to know we had the utmost confidence in him.”
Temple (3-8, 1-5 AAC) will remain at home and face off against East Carolina (6-5, 3-4 AAC) at Lincoln Financial Field for their final game on Saturday, November 26th, at 1:00 PM on ESPN+.