Justin Holman and the Knights of UCF are not going to make winning the American easy for ECU. After dropping Temple 34-14 the Knights move to 5-2 on the year and 3-0 in the American. For Temple, who is now in a glut in the middle of the conference at 2-2 and 4-3 overall, the focus shifts to figuring out where their season is headed.
Holman, UCF's sophomore quarterback, had one of his strongest games of the season after being benched last week. He threw early and often into a number of gaping holes in the Temple secondary. Holman finished the night with 25 completions on 39 attempts for 336 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Temple's quarterback situation was significantly more...well, gross. P.J. Walker continued his struggles, going 15 for 26, 111 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. He was replaced by Connor Reilly in the second half and made a return in the fourth quarter to remain ineffective.
Perhaps surprising was Temple's apparent reluctance to get Jahad Thomas the ball in space. He had nearly 400 all-purpose yards over the last two games and is an explosive security blanket for the struggling Walker.
He had 9 carries and 1 catch after shining through as one of the team's most dangerous players. UCF's rushing attack, led by William Stanback's 94 yards, outgained Temple's by nearly 100 yards: 130-32.
Temple's corners consistently struggled with the UCF receivers, who were able to find separation often, which was especially evident on down-and-long scenarios. This problem finally boiled over when Justin Holman found Breshad Perriman on a 54-yard touchdown pass to put the Knights up 24-7. Perriman finished with 146 yards on 7 catches.
Perriman's touchdown looked like an early dagger for an Owls team that was unable to get off the field on defense, and unable, save for one drive, to move the ball on offense. A bad snap on a UCF punt changed that. Temple blocked the doomed kick and returned it for a touchdown to make it 24-14.
Down only 10 points, Temple was hanging around in a game that had no business being close. However, the Owls, despite another (partially) blocked punt, were unable to capitalize on advantageous field position with their recently success-averse offense. UCF would add a field goal before the half to lead 27-14.
P.J. Walker's struggles continued for Temple and he was replaced by Connor Reilly following the first drive of the second half, where he overthrew Jahad Thomas on a short sideline route for an interception. Reilly would show himself to be no improvement over Walker and was replaced in the fourth quarter after a muffed punt gave Temple the ball on UCF's 15 yard line. Not that it mattered, Temple was unable to convert. UCF would add one more touchdown to give the game its final score of 34-14.
UCF remains undefeated in the American this season, and throughout the conference's short history. They ride this winning streak into a desirable matchup at UConn next week. For Temple, tough sledding gets tougher as they face undefeated ECU at noon in Philadelphia.