WRITTEN BY TOM HANSLIN @thanslin
After earning three consecutive victories in September to begin the 2015 campaign, the Temple Football Owls checked their bye-week off the schedule last week, and pick up regular season play Friday evening in North Carolina against the Charlotte 49ers of the Conference-U.S.A.
Temple’s most recent game transpired in Foxboro on Sept. 19, as the Owls defeated the Massachusetts Minutemen 25-23 with a heroic game-winning field goal by Austin Jones. With that victory, the Owls’ improved their record to 3-0 for the first time since 2010, and remain in search of a 4-0 start for the first time in 36 seasons.
Charlotte enters their fifth game of the season with a record of 2-2, with wins over Georgia State and Presbyterian. However, the 49ers have surrendered a total of 120 points (30 PPG) in four games, and currently sit tied for fourth place in the Conference-U.S.A. standings.
Friday will mark Temple’s final road game until Oct. 22 against East Carolina. The Owls have not played a game at home in Philadelphia since Sept. 5 during Week 1, in which they upset in-state rival Penn State by a score of 27-10. Temple is also looking to win three consecutive games on the road for the first time in program history.
Charlotte’s football program currently is in its third year of existence, and it will be the first ever meeting between the 49ers and Owls. Temple has also not been victorious in the state of North Carolina since defeating the East Carolina Pirates in 1985.
The Owls’ offensive core will be led by Quarterback P.J. Walker, who has completed 56 of 88 (63.6% PAC) passing attempts for a total of 615 yards, including four touchdowns and two interceptions. Walker has been complemented by his former high school teammate Jahad Thomas, who has tallied 394 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 80 total carries in his first three games as the Owls’ lead running back. Temple has utilized a number of wide receivers, as seniors Robby Anderson, Ventell Bryant, and John Christopher have earned over 85 receiving yards apiece, while Anderson owns the sole touchdown among the group. Walker has also incorporated receiver Adonis Jennings into the scheme, as Jennings has totaled 78 yards on six catches, including a touchdown in Week 3 versus Massachusetts.
Temple’s defense will be managed by seniors Tyler Matakevich, Will Hayes, and Alex Wells, who have contributed to the Owls’ American Athletic Conference-leading four sacks per game. The secondary also enters Friday averaging two interceptions per game, best in the American.
The 49ers’ offense will be largely led by running back Kalif Phillips, who has tallied 380 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 71 carries. Andrew Buie places second on the depth chart, as the junior has marked 175 yards on 42 carries. Junior quarterbacks Lee McNeill and Matt Johnson have swapped roles as starter in the first four games, combining for a total 605 yards. McNeill is expecting to receive the start Friday, who has yet to throw a touchdown on 32 passing attempts.
WEEK 4: TEMPLE (3-0) at CHARLOTTE (2-2), OCTOBER 2, 2015
JERRY RICHARDSON STADIUM, CHARLOTTE, NC
TV: 7:00PM ON CBS SPORTSNETWORK
RADIO: 97.5FM THE FANATIC
ODDS: TEM -21.5, O/U 43.5