Owls trample Hackenberg en route to opening day win

Written by: Liam Andell

Picture by: Sam Cohn

Lincoln Financial Field has a different feel to it when Penn State comes to town.  In the clash of Pennsylvania, Temple finds Penn State to be a rival. Being that the Nittany Lions had not lost to the Owls since 1941, this so-called rivalry was not present in Penn State’s eyes.

A sold out crowd of 69,176 fans in attendance was an all time record for the Temple Owls.  Despite the large crowd, it was difficult to tell which team had home field advantage. That was until momentum changed at the end of the third quarter.

The Temple Owls defense took down Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenburg and the Penn State offense, winning their season opener  27-10.

While Hackenberg rushed his guys to the line, Junior defensive lineman Sharif Finch fell back into a zone and intercepted Hackenberg’s pass bringing it down to the two yard line.  After a quick score by P.J Walker, the Owls never looked back.

Combining for 10 total sacks, the Temple Owls (1-0) gave Penn State (0-1) fits all day. Hackenberg only managed 103 yards on the day while completing 44% of his passes.

Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch shifted this game completely with his interception. This takeaway gave a boost to the Temple Owls offense as they scored on their next three possessions.  Junior running back Jahad Thomas took over the workload for the Owls and rushed 29 times for 135 yards, contributing two touchdowns of 1 and 24 yards on the day.

After trailing early in the first quarter 10-0 the Temple Owls defense didn’t allow Penn State to score another point.  The Owls put constant pressure on Hackenberg as they combined for 10 total sacks.  

Senior Linebacker Tyler Matakevich entered the 2015 season with the nations best 355 tackles, he led the Owls with seven total tackles and recorded a career best three sacks on the day.  

Having not beaten Penn State in their last 39 matchups the Temple Owls knew they had to bring extra intensity.  “My hope is that our guys are ready to match the physical battle,” Rhule said during pregame.  

Not only did Temple match the physical battle but they exceeded expectations. Penn State was held down as they only converted 2 of their 13 3rd down attempts and scored zero points following the 1st quarter.

This is the first victory for the Owls over Penn State since 1941. “It felt great to see the excitement of the fans and players. Temple has been in a drought for the last few years and for us to come out and do this for the fans and for Philadelphia, it felt great,” Thomas said following the victory.


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