In Saturday’s matchup between Temple and Army that featured two dominant rushing offenses, the Owls came out on top.
The Black Knights’ defense certainly didn’t look “Army strong” as the Owls rushed for a combined 335 yards and five touchdowns en route to a 42-14 blowout on Saturday afternoon.
“We wanted to come out on offense and establish the run and keep the defense off the field,” coach Steve Addazio said. “That was our game plan.”
The Owls’ running game powered the offense. Junior running backs Bernard Pierce and Matt Brown ran for 157 and 133 yards, respectively.
“We compliment each other,” Pierce said about the Owls’ backfield. “It’s motivating.”
Army couldn’t have come into this game without remembering what Brown did to them last year, when he rushed for 226 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-35 shootout.
“It’s my [offensive line],” Brown said about his success against Army. “It’s not science. They were opening up the holes.”
The Owls jumped on the Black Knights early. Temple scored touchdowns on four of their five first-half drives. Brown scored on the Owls’ opening drive, and Pierce scored on the back-to-back drives that followed. Pierce’s second touchdown, the team’s 30th this year, broke the single season team rushing touchdown school record set in 2009.
“It was important,” Brown said about the running game. “When Army gets ahead of you, it’s hard to come back with their time of possession.”
Army entered the game as the nation’s number one-ranked rushing offense, but was held to 96 yards rushing in the first half. The Black Knights looked out of sync on offense early as they used two of their three timeouts on their first drive of the game.
“The coaches did an unbelievable job,” senior defensive back Kevin Kroboth said. “They had us prepared for how Army was going to attack.”
“We prepared like crazy all week,” senior linebacker Stephen Johnson said. “The coaches did a great job.”
Army scored early in the third quarter to cut into Temple’s lead. Black Knights’ senior quarterback Max Jenkins came off the bench and led his team on a 17-play, 80-yard drive. Jenkins ran it in from one yard out to cut Temple’s lead to 21.
“When they get ahead, they can grind the ball and take time off the clock,” Johnson said. “If we get ahead, it puts pressure on them.”
After Temple went scoreless in the third quarter, Brown got the Owls back on the board early in the fourth quarter with one big play.
On the Owls’ first play of the fourth quarter, Brown exploded up the middle untouched for a 52-yard touchdown run. It was Brown’s second of the game and sixth against Army in the past two years.
Pierce responded with a 49-yard run late in the fourth quarter that included six broken tackles. Pierce and Brown both said that there is a healthy competition for yards between the two of them.
“The competition is good,” Brown said. “It brings out the best in us.”
The 42-14 victory was the 29th win of the senior class’ four-year tenure, a new program record.
“It’s important,” Kroboth said about the new record. “As a freshman, you want to come on a team and win. Fortunately, our coaching staffs have allowed us to do that.”
The Owls have a chance to pick up their eighth win of the season next Friday against Kent State. Despite the fact that Temple was eliminated from contention in winning the Mid-American Eastern division this week, Addazio said he talked to his team about staying focused.
“We talked about respect and legacy,” Addazio said, who tied a school record for most wins in a season by a first-year head coach. “We got our seventh win. We have a chance to go and compete for our eighth win.”
Temple cannot win the MAC East, but they can still make it to a bowl game through an at-large bid, something the team said they remain hopeful for.
“All you can do is what you can do,” Addazio said. “I’m sure there will be a spot for us if we take care of business against [Kent State].”
“It hurts not knowing we’re going to get a MAC championship,” Kroboth added. “So our goal is to get to eight wins and get to a bowl game to make that our legacy.”