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

2004.

”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.”