WRITTEN BY: TOM HANSLIN @tomhanslin
After 15 minutes of play on Friday night, Temple found themselves ahead by 21 points, on pace to finish the game with 84 points and more than 800 total yards of offense.
In the latter 45 minutes, the Owls didn’t find the end zone once, but managed to keep the score the same.
Three touchdown passes from Phillip Walker in the first quarter led Temple (7-3, 5-1) to its fourth consecutive victory, a 21-0 shutout against the UConn Huskies (3-7, 1-6) at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford.
It was the Owls’ second shutout of the season (38-0 vs. Stony Brook on Sept. 10) and first shutout against an FBS opponent since Oct. 2011 (34-0 vs. Buffalo).
“This was one of the best defensive performances we have seen from these guys,” said Temple coach Matt Rhule, whose defense limited UConn to only 160 yards of offense. “We wish we would have scored more, but this was our 10th week and we will take the bye week. I am proud of the team the way they fought and clawed.”
Walker, who earned his 25th career victory as Temple’s quarterback, completed his first six passes of the night for 147 yards; three of which resulted in touchdowns. Senior halfback Jahad Thomas earned two scores, one from 23-yards deep and one from 10, while tight end Romond Deloatch earned the latter touchdown, an 18-yard score. For Thomas, it was the seventh time this season he has scored two touchdowns in a game.
Temple’s sophomore standouts made a significant impact on the game as well. Halfback Ryquell Armstead rushed for 133 yards on 20 carries, while wide receiver Ventell Bryant led the team with 82 receiving yards on four receptions.
UConn’s only chance of scoring came on a 35-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter. But Temple’s Michael Dogbe blocked Bobby Puyol’s kick to keep the Huskies from getting on the board.
Temple’s defense restricted UConn to just eight first down conversions and 69 passing yards, as true freshman quarterback Donovan Williams completed 12 of 21 passes. The Owls also forced five sacks and 12 tackles for a loss.
Despite throwing two red zone interceptions, Walker (12-18, 215 yards) became the first Temple quarterback to throw for more than 2,000 yards in four straight seasons. Ventell Bryant also became the 25th player in team history with 1,000 career receiving yards.
To repeat as American Athletic Conference East Division champions, the Owls will need to win at Tulane on Nov. 19 coming off a bye week, and at home against East Carolina on Nov. 26.