Many assumed it would be a defensive struggle this week, and that was exactly the case as the Temple Owls came away with a 24-2 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Re’Mahn Davis ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns, and the Owls defense pitched a shutout in Geoff Collins’ return to Philadelphia. It was a much-needed bounce back from a week ago when the Owls struggled on the road against Buffalo. Temple relied on the ground game throughout the contest with 195 yards rushing, and it was a point of emphasis entering the game.
“We wanted to come out and run the ball. We established that,” Rod Carey said after the game. “We ran it when they knew we were going to run it and when we wanted to run it.”
Safety Benny Walls was the star of the game on defense with a long interception return on a fourth quarter pass in the end zone and a 74-yard fumble return for a touchdown that put the game out of reach. The Temple defense was strong all afternoon, forcing three turnovers and holding Georgia Tech to 2-of-14 on third down conversions.
Jadan Blue came up with the first big play of the afternoon on a 38-yard catch and run to the Georgia Tech 10-yard line. But the drive failed to generate points as Russo was picked off by Kaleb Oliver on a forced throw into the end zone. It was the sixth interception Russo has thrown this season, and another lackluster performance from the Temple quarterback. Russo finished the ball game 9-of-22 with 127 yards passing and the turnover.
Georgia Tech looked to be on the move at the start of the second quarter on the legs of Tobias Oliver. A 10-yard gain on fourth-and-3 and a late hit penalty against the Owls set the Yellow Jackets with first-and-goal from the 10-yard line. Oliver looked to be on his way to scoring the first points of the game, but Isaiah Graham-Mobley punched the ball out of Oliver’s hands right as he was about to cross the goal line. The ball popped up into the waiting arms of Christian Braswell for the turnover and touchback. Temple’s defense bailed them out once again.
The Owls scored the first points of the afternoon midway through the second quarter on a nine-play, 58-yard drive that was capped off by a Re’Mahn Davis 18-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1. The freshman from San Francisco patiently waited for his blockers to set up before finding a hole to the left and taking it in for the score.
Temple’s defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, and the offense found its groove once again. A steady dose of Davis and an impressive catch-and-run by Isaiah Wright moved the Owls into scoring range. Jager Gardner converted on a fourth-and-1 play from the Georgia Tech 15-yard line and a pass interference penalty in the end zone on GT set up a one-yard touchdown run by Davis with eight seconds left in the first half.
The offensive performance in the first two quarters was significantly improved from the performance against Buffalo. The Owls were 2-of-16 on third downs in the loss to the Bulls, but were 5-of-11 on third down conversions in the early going.
The Yellow Jackets opened the second half with possession and a switch to James Graham at quarterback had the offensive driving down the field. Oliver was reinserted into the game after GT crossed midfield, but his second fumble of the game was even more costly than the previous. Ifeanyi Maijeh stripped Oliver from behind, and Benny Walls picked up the loose football for a 74-yard touchdown return to give Temple a 21-0 lead with 10:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Georgia Tech scored their first points of the game after pinning Temple at the 1-yard line on a punt. On the next play, Davis was stuffed in the backfield, failing to get out of the end zone and giving the Yellow Jackets two points on the safety.
The Owls have a short turnaround with a nationally televised road game on Thursday night at ECU. The Pirates (2-2) are coming off a bye week, while it will be the first American Athletic Conference game of the season for Temple. The game can be seen on ESPN and kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST.