The Temple Owls led at halftime, but were shut out in the second half as they fell to Duke in the 2018 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl 56-27.
The teams went back and forth in the first half with Temple holding the 27-21 halftime edge. However, TU could find no offensive rhythm in the second half while Duke exploded for 35 second-half points.
Duke struck first after a 62-yard pass from Daniel Jones to T.J. Rahming got the Blue Devils into the red zone. Backup quarterback Quentin Harris would then take it himself for the touchdown.
Temple would respond quickly, however. Isaiah Wright took the kickoff 74 yards, deep into Duke territory. Anthony Russo would later run the ball himself into the endzone to tie the game. A pick six from Delvon Randall on the next drive would give Temple a 13-7 lead.
That interception was soon followed by two more, one from each side along with a couple of punts.
But after Duke’s second pick, the next four combined drives all resulted in touchdowns. The first half would end with a late hit called against Temple that caused the second half kickoff to be moved back 15 yards.
The second half, however, was all Duke. Starting with their two second quarter scores, Duke scored touchdowns on seven consecutive drives. The streak was broken by their third interception of the day, but Temple soon after gave it right back via a fumble, and it was all garbage time after that.
Jones lit up Temple’s defense for over 400 yards and five touchdowns along with a rushing score, although he threw two interceptions. Rahming on his own had 240 receiving yards and two scores, and he broke the Independence Bowl record for all-purpose yards with 286.
Anthony Russo threw for 228 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
Temple played well in the first half, but just completely collapsed in the second. They had no answers on either side of the ball and went 0-3 on fourth downs, including a botched snap on a fake punt that gave Duke the ball at the Temple 10.
After a slow start, Temple’s season really picked up on the way to a 7-1 conference record, including a win over #20 Cincinnati. However, this loss bookends an otherwise good season with disappointing losses.
This loss is another black eye on an American Athletic Conference that is struggling this bowl season. It also doesn’t help that Temple finished 7-1 in AAC play, but 1-4 in non-conference play.
Russo made it clear after the game that the Owls are ready to get back to work and compete for a conference title next season.
“We’re gonna get the things that we need to get fixed, fixed,” Russo said. “We’re going to continue to do what we do and work our butts off ... We’re gonna come back a stronger team, a closer team.”