Written By: Ajay Patel
Photo Courtesy of: @Temple_FB
On the road for the second week in a row, the Owls landed in Ohio to take on the Zips of Akron. Temple Football wanted to put the 61-14 loss to Rutgers in the rearview mirror.
But out of the gate, Temple did not look in the best of shape, making it seem like they picked up right where they left off last week.
Zip’s quarterback Kato Nelson had his way with Temple’s Defense. Before injuring himself with 5:24 left in the second quarter, the leader of the Zips’ offense threw for 82 yards and a touchdown. But made his presence known in the run game as well, rushing for 32 yards on 10 carries. Under the senior’s leadership, Akron once held a 14-0 lead over the Owls.
When asked about what effect this deficit had on the team, starting quarterback Justin Lynch said, “No, it didn’t change anything, a whole lot of football left, especially in the first quarter.” The true freshman, starting his first collegiate game ever, ended this statement as a veteran would, “We have three quarters left, no confidence lost by anybody.”
Temple took advantage of the departed quarterback situation for Akron and hopped in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game. Immediately after Nelson was replaced by DJ Irons, the defense sparked and looked the most complete it has this season. The catalyst to this spark was linebacker William Kwenkeu recovering a fumble and returning it 38 yards for a touchdown.
Just 12 seconds later, Manny Walker intercepted a pass intended for the running back, taking it to the house for a three-yard pick-6.
Knowing the necessity of scoring in this position, Coach Carey said, “Any score we needed on that drive, whether it was one play or whether it was 15 plays, we were down 14-0.”
Being down two touchdowns early in the second quarter created urgency within the organization, “We needed a score, certainly got one.”
All of a sudden, before halftime the Owls had the 24-17 lead, receiving the ball to start off the second half.
As the game progressed and Lynch got more comfortable, the playbook options started opening up for offensive coordinator Mike Uremovich. “He (Uremovich) put together a good game plan for us,” wide-receiver Randle Jones had to say post game. “What he has seen against them (Akron), what would work.”
In the beginning stages of this contest, Lynch executed a series of bubble screens, read options, and an occasional three-step drop back. But as the game progressed and momentum started favoring the Owls, the audience saw how capable the young quarterback was.
The spotlight started shining on Lynch beginning on the second drive of the third quarter, where he threw an accurate football on a back-shoulder completion. Randle Jones made the 17-yard reception there and later ended up catching a 27-yard touchdown throw.
The ability to piece consistent drives together allowed Lynch to finish the day going 19/23, having 279 total yards of offense, and three total touchdowns. The rookie led the Owls to their first win in 7 games, conquering the Zips 45-24.
Next week the Owls have their first home game at Lincoln Financial Field, where they take on AAC opponent Boston College. They will come into Philadelphia with an undefeated record, beating nonconference opponents Colgate, and UMass.