Temple wins first game of season 33-14 over Army

Finally, after seven tries, Matt Rhule has a win.

Temple won its first game of the season, and the first game of
Rhule’s head-coaching career, 33-14 over Army on Saturday at
Lincoln Financial Field.

The win snapped a seven-game losing streak for Temple (1-6) and
a six-game home losing streak dating back to last season.

Army (3-5) hasn’t won in 11 tries at the Linc going back to

”Obviously, I’m happy,” Rhule said. ”I’m more happy for my
son and my wife because they live it every day.

”But I have to be honest, I’m more thrilled for our players.
… Those kids have been through it, and they weathered the storm,
and they have come back and worked and work and worked. That, to
me, is how you build something.”

Freshman quarterback P.J. Walker led Temple in his second
college start, completing 10 of 16 attempts for 203 yards, two
touchdowns and an interception. He connected on eight of his first
11 throws and threw for two touchdowns in the first half with a
37-yard completion to Jalen Fitzpatrick and a 39-yard reception by
John Christopher.

Fitzpatrick led all receivers with a career-high 128 yards on
four catches. The junior wide receiver did not score in Temple’s
first four games but has caught three touchdown passes from Walker
in the last three.

”We’ve been practicing that play all week,” Walker said,
referring to a fake QB dive that ended with Fitzpatrick in the end
zone. ”We called it just to ensure that we would make a big play.
I wasn’t going to accept anything less. Jalen went out there, beat
the guy on the stutter and kept running.”

While the Temple offense was piling up the points, the defense
was working to frustrate Army’s triple-option rushing attack. The
Black Knights entered Saturday’s game with the highest rushing
average in the nation at 352.3, but had just 81 by halftime and ran
into some turnover issues.

Army starting quarterback Angel Santiago left the game in the
second quarter with an injury to what appeared to be his left ankle
and did not return. He was replaced by a combination of sophomore
Kelvin White and freshman Tevin Long.

White was responsible for all of his team’s points, but also
three of its four turnovers with two interceptions and a fumble.
Temple scored 13 points off the two Army fumbles, and White’s two
interceptions ended any rally attempt in the fourth quarter.

”Turnovers are a big deal,” Army head coach Rich Ellerson
said. ”If we don’t turn the ball over, then we have a chance at
winning this game. Taking away 13 points that they got off of us,
then that finish is a little bit more interesting. We were
well-prepared, but they capitalized on our mistakes.”

Temple’s Tyler Matakevich forced two of those mistakes. The
sophomore linebacker entered Saturday’s game with the most solo
tackles in the nation (65) and racked up 13 more to go along with a
fumble recovery and an interception.

The Owls’ two other turnovers came off a Nate D. Smith fumble
recovery for a touchdown in the second quarter and a Tavon Young
interception in the fourth.

Temple had forced just three turnovers all season coming into
the Army game, but got four out of the Black Knights.

”It’s the same thing I’ve said every week: We control how we
play, we never control the opponent,” Rhule said. ”For the first
time, I felt like the team was not looking around. Tyler Matakevich
tips a ball up to himself. Nate Smith picks up a ball and runs it
in for a touchdown. Guys controlled how they played today. I
couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Temple, 1-2 in the American Athletic Conference, returns to
conference play next week when it travels to Dallas for a date with
Southern Methodist. So Rhule will only have a few hours to enjoy
his first win.

”Obviously, I’m excited,” Rhule said, ”but at about 10
o’clock tonight, I’m going to start on SMU.”