It was the first time in program history that the Owls defeated two ranked teams in one season, and only the ninth win over a top 25 opponent.
Much of the talk after the game was about an overturned call on a fourth down play that ended a Memphis drive late in the game. White was under duress on the play, throwing up a pass in which Joey Magnifico looked to have made a diving catch for a first down on fourth-and-9. But after review, the referees ruled the ball hit the ground before he gained possession and the play was ruled incomplete. You be the judge.
That’s a great call for the Owls fans celebrating homecoming weekend, but Memphis fans might have good reason to be angry.
Kenneth Gainwell, the redshirt freshman who has been spectacular in the absence of Patrick Taylor Jr., finished with 204 yards of offense and a rushing touchdown in the Tigers first loss of the season.
The Owls scored on their opening drive, an eight-play, 84-yard drive that was capped off with a Jager Gardner 1-yard touchdown run. The key play on the drive was a 38-yard completion to Branden Mack, who went up between two defenders to make a spectacular catch deep in Tigers territory.
Temple regained possession a few plays later with a Harrison Hand interception on a poorly thrown Brady White pass. White was rolling out of the pocket, looking to make a play, but Hand came down with an easy catch to take over possession just outside midfield.
It was more of the same on the Tigers next drive as White was strip sacked by DeAndre Kelly. Temple linebacker Sam Franklin scooped up the loose football and tiptoed down the sidelines before going out of bounds at the 12-yard line.
Memphis looked to have a drive going after a Christian Braswell pass interference penalty and a beautifully thrown pass by White to Kedarian Jones for 43 yards. But one play after that big gain, Dana Levine forced a fumble on a bad exchange between White and Kylan Watkins. A couple Temple players had a chance to pick it up and run, but Quincy Roche ultimately pounced on the ball at the Temple 19-yard line. Three straight drives ended with turnovers for the Tigers.
The problem for Temple was that the offense stalled in scoring range after those turnovers. Will Mobley would convert on field goals of 31, 29, and career-long 44 yards in the first half.
Temple’s first miscue of the day set up the Tigers scoring. Memphis defensive lineman Joseph Dorceus recovered a botched handoff in which Re’Mahn Davis and Isaiah Wright ran into each other.
Memphis capitalized on the Owls turnover on a beautifully designed run-pass option with White hitting Damonte Coxie in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown. White pulled the ball out of the running back’s hands very late before deciding to find Coxie with the back shoulder throw.
Temple answered with their best drive of the day which ended with Isaiah Wright making a highlight reel play to find pay dirt. Wright scored on a 12-yard jet sweep by hurdling a defender. The Owls would lead, 23-7, with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.
Memphis needed just a minute to score their second touchdown of the afternoon. Gainwell broke free from 25 yards out in his longest rush of the game for the score to make it a 23-14 game right before halftime.
An 11-play, 95-yard scoring drive on the Tigers’ first possession of the second half reduced the Owls lead to two points. Gainwell had receptions of 22 and 18 yards on the drive before Watkins finished the drive off with a 23-yard touchdown run.
Anthony Russo connected with Mack for a 12-yard touchdown after another White fumble early in the fourth. It was Hand making the big play once again as he jarred the ball loose with White diving forward on a scramble.
Memphis responded with a touchdown to bring the game back within two when Tyce Daniel was the recipient of a 3-yard touchdown. The sophomore tight end’s first reception of his collegiate career is a touchdown grab.
Austin Hall stopped Re’Mahn Davis on fourth-and-2 to give Memphis the possession in which the play was overturned.
The Tigers will be back home next week to take on Tulane in AAC West play. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. An official decision on which ESPN network it will be aired on is expected soon.
Temple will head to the road to take on another ranked opponent at SMU. The game can be seen on ESPN2 with a 3:30 p.m. EST start time.