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Temple drops Tulane to keep AAC Championship hopes alive

The Temple win sets up a huge meeting to decide the AAC East in Cincinnati next week

Tulane v Temple Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Tulane may have won the inaugural Sugar Bowl meeting in 1935 between them and the Temple Owls, but it has been one-sided ever since.

The Owls had record-breaking performances on both sides of the ball and tight end Kenny Yeboah caught two touchdowns passes in a 29-21 win over the Tulane Green Wave. The Cherry and White have won the last four meetings between two of the nation’s oldest football programs.

Temple defensive end Quincy Roche was disruptive all afternoon, recording 12 tackles. Six of them were for a loss which is an American Athletic Conference and Temple school record. He also added three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Roche is making a strong case for AAC Defensive Player of the Year with 9.5 tackles for loss and six sacks the last two weeks.

Yeboah hauled in two of the three touchdowns for Temple, with the other going to wide receiver Jadan Blue. The redshirt sophomore caught 12 passes for 131 yards, becoming the first player in school history with consecutive games with 10-plus receptions. Blue is also the first player in program history with three 10-plus receptions games in a single season.

As for Tulane’s playmakers, well... they were much quieter. Quarterback Justin McMillan just barely got over 100 yards passing on the day with no touchdowns and an interception. He did, though, pace the Wave’s rushers with 64 yards on the ground.

The Green Wave’s three scores all came courtesy of the running game. Cameron Carroll racked up two while Darius Bradwell had one. It wasn’t enough to overcome the Owls, though, thanks in large part to the game-changers Temple was able to field.

Roche made an impact right out of the gate with a strip sack and fumble recovery that gave the Owls possession at the Tulane 19. Blue looked to have caught a short touchdown pass after the turnover, but a flag on Brenden Mack for offensive pass interference nullified the score and Temple settled for a 35-yard field goal to open up the scoring.

Todd Centeio came in for his usual work in the second quarter and led the Owls to a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive. He was 4-of-6 for 76 yards passing, with another 11 yards on the ground on the series. The drive ended on a four-yard touchdown pass to Yeboah, the second time the duo has connected for a score in back-to-back weeks.

The Owls opened up the scoring on their first possession of the second half with another Mobley field goal to increase their lead to 16-7. The Owls kicker finished 3-for-3 on field goal attempts, but did miss an extra point try due to the high winds during the game.

Temple linebacker Chapelle Russell stripped Green Wave running back Corey Dauphine on the ensuing drive and Owls cornerback Christian Braswell fell on the loose football to give Temple a short field to work with. The Owls methodically moved the ball down field on the drive which was punctuated on Yeboah’s second touchdown grab of the afternoon. He finished with five catches for 63 yards and the two scores, which matched his total heading into the game.

In a game that seemed nearly out of reach entering the fourth quarter, the Greenies finally were able to produce. Bradwell’s lone touchdown cut the Temple lead to eight in the final frame.

Temple responded, though, with four receptions for 55 yards from Blue on the drive, including the 16-yard touchdown on a tip pass behind the line of scrimmage.

The Owls kept their conference championship hopes alive with the win and will travel to Ohio for a meeting with nationally-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats next week. Temple needs to win out, as well as a Cincinnati loss to Memphis on the final week of the regular season to make it to the title game.

Tulane (6-4, 3-3 AAC) now prepares for a home date with UCF and, even though the Knights haven’t been the same juggernauts we’re used to seeing out of the American, they still won’t be a pushover by any means. Willie Fritz and company have a week to right the ship.