Temple beats Memphis 41-21
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)
Temple finished its season by finally finishing a game with momentum.
P.J. Walker threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Robby Anderson, as Temple snapped a four-game losing streak with a 41-21 victory over Memphis on Saturday.
Temple had struggled in the fourth quarter recently. The Owls (2-10, 1-7 American Athletic Conference) had led or been tied entering the fourth quarter the last four games only to be outscored in the final frame leading to losses.
That didn't happen against Memphis. The Owls scored 10 points down the stretch to preserve the victory.
''It's unbelievably satisfying,'' Temple coach Matt Rhule said. ''I believe winning is a process, and we started out the year not always playing good football. Then we started playing good football in the second half and not the first. Then we started playing good football through three quarters, and to finally finish it was what we needed.''
Walker completed 20-32 passes. Anderson had 96 yards receiving, including scoring catches of 1, 11 and 21 yards. Chris Coyer had three receptions for 129 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch.
The win gave the Owls their first conference victory as Temple's offense dominated the nationally-ranked Memphis defense, amassing 534 yards in total offense. Memphis (3-8, 1-6) managed only 228 yards.
Besides Walker's four touchdown passes, the Owls scored when Michael Felton recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. Nick Visco kicked field goals from 22 and 19 yards.
Sam Craft scored all three Memphis touchdowns - on runs of 1 and 3 yards and a 10-yard pass from Paxton Lynch.
''They showed up and beat us in every facet of the game,'' Memphis coach Justin Fuente said. ''Matt (Rhule) and his staff did a great job of keeping those kids committed and getting them ready to play hard. And that's how they won the game.''
Temple mangled the Memphis defense, which entered the game ranked 16th nationally. By halftime, Temple not only led 17-7, but had racked up 310 yards.
Meanwhile, the Owls defense, ranked last in the conference, held the Tigers to a scant 74 yards, as Memphis had the ball only 8:32 of the half.
''The defense did an unbelievable job from start to finish,'' said linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who had eight tackles on the day, including two for losses. ''The offense did their part and look at the outcome.
''We really just stopped them and took away what they wanted to do. That just left them like: `I don't really know what to do.' They were throwing a bunch of stuff at us and we just kept responding.''
The Memphis offense was stagnant from the start. Lynch was having trouble getting the ball past the line of scrimmage. His first three passes were batted away, including two by Kamal Johnson.
''To start like we did and to finish, that's what we've been preaching all year,'' Matakevich said. ''Unfortunately, it came so late. We were so close throughout the whole year.''
The start contributed to the Tigers gaining only 8 yards through the first period. Meanwhile, Temple was collecting 134 yards, but could manage only a 22-yard field goal from Visco, a kick that was low and crawled over the crossbar.
Temple would capitalize on a fumble by Memphis running back Doroland Dorceus at the Owls' 13. Temple went 87 yards on the ensuing drive, the final yard covered on a pass from Walker to Anderson.
Anderson would score again on an 11-yard pass from Walker in the closing seconds of the half.
Memphis scored on a 1-yard run by Craft set up by Joe Craig's 56-yard return after Anderson's first touchdown. At the start of that drive, Memphis' offense was balanced - 25 yards passing, 25 yards rushing.
Walker continued to connect after halftime, throwing the 75-yard touchdown pass to Coyer, when he read a Tiger blitz and hit the tight end in a seam down the middle of the field.
The Owls' lead reached 31-14 in the third quarter when Sharif Finch blocked a Memphis punt and Felton recovered the ball in the end zone for Temple.
Visco's 19-yard field goal, and Anderson's 21-yard pass Walker closed out the scoring for Temple, a rare fourth-quarter burst by the Owls.
''It's very satisfying,'' Walker said. ''We ended up on a really good note. We put up a lot of yards offensively and the defense did a great job giving us good field position. We're just going to bring this momentum into next season.''