The Temple Owls (4-1, 2-0) took down the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-5, 1-1) for their second consecutive win in American Athletic Conference play. The homecoming game was played under a dreary Philadelphia sky and sporadic rain.
Temple received the opening kickoff, and immediately took to the ground to attack the struggling Tulsa defense. Their first play from scrimmage was a 68-yard run by Jahad Thomas, who took his next carry 8 yards before Kenneth Harper came in for an 8-yard touchdown run. Thomas would finish the game with 171 total yards and a touchdown. Temple's opening drive went 79 yards in 57 seconds, exclusively on rushing plays to the right side of the line.
Tulsa's first spark of life came with 4:26 remaining in the first quarter when they blocked a Temple punt, setting the ensuing drive up at midfield. Dane Evans promptly completed a pass to Keevan Lucas down the sideline for 25 yards, and found him again on the next play for a gain of eight. Tulsa was able to knot it up on a 19-yard Zack Langer touchdown run up the middle for Tulsa's first points in the first quarter this season.
Special teams would continue to be a thorn in the Owls' side. Tulsa squibbed the kickoff following Salazar's extra point. Thomas fielded it and carried it 18 yards before being hit and fumbling the ball, which Tulsa would recover.
Tulsa, however, would only move backwards six yards before turning the ball over on downs. A crucial facemasking penalty negated a huge gain by Keevan Lucas that would have set Tulsa up in Temple's red zone.
Capitalizing on the defense's stand, Temple's offense took the field and put the ball in P.J. Walker's hands, who would throw for 294 yards and two touchdowns on the day. Walker started the drive with a 37-yard dart down the middle of the field to Jalen Fitzpatrick to the Tulsa 26. Two plays later he completed a screen pass to Harper for a gain of 21 to get to the Tulsa 5-yard line.
However, the offense's engine began to stall inside the five. Walker threw an incompletion, and a pass for a short gain to Colin Thompson, before nearly completing a fade to Romond DeLoatch in the back of the end zone that would be ruled incomplete after review. Temple would be forced to settle for a field goal.
Matt Rhule, however, used the downtime during the review of DeLoatch's potential touchdown to dial up a fake field goal, which Connor Reilly, Temple's backup quarterback and holder, would take three yards for a touchdown on a keeper. Temple led 14-7 with 14:19 remaining in the second quarter.
Tulsa responded immediately with an impressive drive of 62 yards. Dane Evans led the Golden Hurricane on a 9-play drive. Evans would hit Keyarris Grant for 20 yards to get the Hurricane moving, before hitting Keevan Lucas for a 10-yard gain on third-and-four to convert their first third down of the game.
Zack Langer then took the ball for a 14-yard gain to set Tulsa up at the Temple 11. Two plays later Evans hit an uncovered Mandel Dixon for a 9-yard touchdown to tie the game. Tulsa tied it up at 14 with 10:33 remaining in the second frame.
P.J. Walker followed Tulsa's drive with an interception to Craig Suits on his first pass attempt. Tulsa would be set up on the Temple 40 with a tie score and an opportunity to take their first lead of the game.
Tulsa moved the ball into field goal range, gaining 16 yards on 6 plays. This set up Carl Salazar for a 41-yard field goal attempt. However, Salazar would be unable to convert as he knocked the ball off an upright, keeping the score tied. Tulsa, for the second time, would create no points from a Temple turnover.
Tulsa received the ball again following a stalled Temple drive and punt. The Golden Hurricane put together an 11-play, 79-yard drive that lasted 4:34. The Golden Hurricane offensive line began to create some huge holes for Zack Langer, who had runs of 15 and 11 yards before Evans hit Joshua Atkins for a 38-yard gain to the Temple 6-yard line.
Temple's defense came through again, though, stopping Tulsa from crossing the goal-line on four straight rushing attempts, culminating on a 4th down stop inches from the plane. The score remained tied with 2 minutes remaining in the half.
The Owls began the two-minute drill in the shadow of their own goalpost, and it looked as though it would be a quick three-and-out with the Owls being forced to punt from their own endzone. However, a roughing the passer call on Tulsa's Craig Suits would keep the drive alive for Temple, while also giving the offense a little more breathing room.
Quickly capitalizing on the turn of events, Walker completed a 64-yard pass to Jamie Gilmore to set Temple up on the Tulsa 18-yard line with under a minute to play. On the next play he hit Jalen Fitzpatrick for a gain of 13 to the Tulsa 5-yard line. To cap the drive, Walker scrambled 5 yards for a touchdown that would send Temple into the locker room up 21-14 at the half.
Tulsa responded immediately after the half. It looked as though their first drive of the third quarter was going to stall after Temple kept Tulsa to an incompletion on 3rd and 3 from their own 41. However, Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich held on the play, keeping Tulsa's drive alive. A few plays later, Keevan Lucas made a super over-the-shoulder catch on a 29-yard pass from Dane Evans to tie the score at 21.
Temple's first trip into scoring position in the second half ended on Walker being stopped short on a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1. The drive started with Walker moving the Owls into Tulsa territory on a dart to Jalen Fitzpatrick for 20 yards. However, the Owl offense wouldn't gain more than four yards on another play that drive, ceding the ball to the Hurricane on downs.
Tulsa engineered a 10-play, 42-yard drive that ran just under five minutes off the clock to get into field goal range to give them their first lead of the game. Carl Salazar, who missed from 41 earlier, hit a 42-yard field goal to give the Hurricane a 24-21 lead over Temple with 14:55 to play.
Temple responded immediately with a 32-yard run up the middle from Jamie Gilmore to give them a first down at Tulsa's 38-yard line. Things temporarily stalled there for the Owls, as Gilmore gaining four more yards was the offense's only movement between two Walker incompletions.
On 4th-and-6 Walker threw another incompletion, but a pass interference penalty kept the drive moving, and put Temple inside the Tulsa 20. However, Temple would not be able to convert, as they quickly found themselves in another 4th down. Opting to kick this time, Temple kicker Austin Jones missed the field goal, keeping Temple down 3 early in the 4th quarter.
Following a Tulsa punt, Temple started their second drive of the fourth quarter at their own 34. Walker rolled all the way right on the first play from scrimmage, juking a defender, before throwing deep across his body to a wide-open Jalen Fitzpatrick for a 36-yard gain.
Temple lined up and quickly ran a second play, which called Fitzpatrick's number again on a 30-yard completion for a touchdown. The connection gave Temple a 28-24 lead with 10:38 remaining, and sparked a passing game that had completed only 11 of 26 attempts beforehand.
Stifling Tulsa on the ensuing drive, Temple got the ball back with 8:38 remaining. In a callback to what had been successful early in the game for the Owls, they dialed up four consecutive running plays to Jahad Thomas. The first three went off tackle to the left for gains of 34, 9, and 7, before he ran up the middle for 5.
Things slowed down for the Owls, however, as they were unable to convert a 3rd-and-2 from Tulsa's 19-yard line on a Kenneth Harper dive. Matt Rhule was faced with the decision to kick a 36-yard field goal that would put them up 7 if made, or go for it, and attempt to make it a two-score game with under 5:30 to play.
Rhule sent the offense to the field, but with only 12 seconds on the play-clock replaced them with the field goal team. Rhule was forced into a timeout when he noticed they had 12 players on the field. After the timeout, Walker and the offense returned to the field, where they converted the 4th-and-2 on a play-action rollout pass to Kenneth Harper.
Immediately following the conversion, Temple was called for a delay of game, and lost two yards on a rushing play. An incompletion down the left side of the field put Temple in a 3rd-and-17 situation. However, on a play almost mirroring the one on which they converted 4th-and-2, Walker rolled out and dumped the ball off to Jahad Thomas who took it 20 yards for a touchdown. Temple led 35-24 with 3:25 to play following the 10-play, 73-yard drive, which bled 5:09 off the clock. Despite two late potential-rallying drives, Tulsa was unable to score, and would fall 35-24 to the Owls.