By: Chris Kofsky & Mike Zingrone
Photo by: Sam Cohn
For the second season in a row, Temple football defeated a nationally ranked opponent.
Temple’s defense shut down an explosive Maryland offense while redshirt junior quarterback Anthony Russo and the Owls’ offense did just enough to propel Temple (2-0, 0-0) to a 20-17 victory on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
This is the first time since 2015 that the Owls have started the season 2-0.
Maryland (2-1, 0-0) entered the game ranked No. 21 in the nation with a 2-0 record and an average of 71 points per game.
The Owls’ shorthanded secondary held Maryland to just 131 passing yards while the Terrapins converted just 4 of its 21 third downs. The Owls stopped Maryland on two different fourth-and-goal situations late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Temple got the lead thanks to tight end Kenny Yeboah, who made his season debut, catching the game-winning seven-yard touchdown.
Here are the games three takeaways from Chris Kofsky and Mike Zingrone:
On the fourth offensive play of the game, cornerback Harrison Hand gave Temple the early momentum.
Maryland transfer quarterback Josh Jackson dropped back on fourth down and was intercepted by Hand just 2 minutes and 10 seconds into the game.
Temple was without one of its best cornerbacks Linwood Crump due to injury and also was missing Ty Mason Jr. for the first half. The Owls needed a cornerback to step up against an explosive Maryland offense.
Harrison Hand was that cornerback as he finished with an interception, a team-leading 10 tackles and one pass breakup.
Hand will have to continue to step up if starting cornerback Linwood Crump misses a significant amount of time with his injury.
“[Hand] carries a chip on his shoulder so when he got that pick I was happy for him,” defensive lineman Ifeanyi Maijeh said. “He’s made a great impact on our defense. They tried him a couple of times and time and time again he showed them that they cannot.”
Third down woes
Coming into Saturday’s matchup both teams were very successful on third down.
Maryland converted third downs at a 60-percent rate in its first two games while Temple went 11-for-15 on third down against Bucknell University.
On Saturday, both teams largely struggled on third down as Maryland finished the game 4-for-21 on third-down conversions, while Temple went 2-for-13.
There were multiple points in the game where momentum was up for grabs on a key third down, and the defenses won those moments.
Most notably, Temple’s defense stepped up when it needed to most. Maryland had two chances to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, but the Owls forced the Terrapins to go four-and-out on both occasions to secure a Temple victory.
Senior linebacker Shaun Bradley and the Owls defense did not shy away from the opportunity to win the game. Instead, with the game on the line, Temple’s defense embraced the challenge to win the game.
“Put the ball down,” Bradley said on the defense’s last stand. “Every time put the ball down. Doesn’t matter where we are at, what happens. We stay together, put the ball down and play the next play.”
“That’s when you want to make a play,” cornerback Christian Braswell said. “You want to be on Sportscenter or whatever show it is making a play… We want that challenge because that is what we are built for.”
Your boy Yeboah
Redshirt junior tight end Kenny Yeboah missed Temple’s season opener against Bucknell due to injury. Against Maryland, Yeboah played a vital role and caught the game-winning touchdown.
Yeboah didn’t lead the team in receptions or yards, but he caught a seven-yard touchdown with 7:27 remaining in the game to give Temple a 20-15 lead. He finished with four receptions for 44 yards in his season debut.
“He made a crazy catch and I’m so proud of him,” said Russo. “Battling an injury the last couple of weeks and being able to come out here and played the way he did and to get him in the end zone like that was awesome.”
Yeboah’s touchdown was just the second of his career. His first touchdown came last season against a familiar opponent, the University of Maryland.
After the game, Yeboah said he is fully healed from his injuries and is 100-percent.
Yeboah will look to build on his performance along with the rest of the Temple team when they travel to the University at Buffalo next week in a rematch from last season.
WHIP will travel to Buffalo to bring you all the coverage for the Owls’ first away game of the season.