Inside the Nest Host
It’s the season of the two-point conversion attempts. And so far, its failures.
One week after losing to Navy on a failed two-point conversion, the Owls (1-1, 1-0) walked away from the Linc with their first win, 39-37, after stuffing South Florida on its own two-point attempt in the game’s final seconds.
“Winning is hard. Period,” Head Coach Rod Carey said after the game.
“I think I didn’t play as well as I could,” Graduate quarterback Anthony Russo said. “But a win’s a win.”
Russo showed some struggles in his decision making again Saturday, just like he did last week against Navy. He threw two interceptions, but he also had four touchdown passes. And one of those interceptions went under review for what Carey thought should’ve been a pass interference call on USF.
“(USF) tackled Blue and (the refs) did not call it,” Carey said. “That was amazing they didn’t call it.”
Even after the interceptions, Russo remained the leader Temple needed him to be.
“Anthony is way more composed (this season),” Redshirt Junior Jadan Blue said. “He’s always positive in the huddle.”
Much like the season opener versus Navy last Saturday, the Owls found themselves playing catch up most of the afternoon. Temple was trailing 31-26 in the fourth quarter, and USF had possession of the ball with a chance to potentially put the game out of reach. But Redshirt Junior Arnold Ebiketie had other ideas when he recovered a Kelly Joiner 11-yard fumble for a touchdown and a lead Temple never lost.
“I was just trying to do my job at a high level,” Ebiketie said. “Those are the same plays we run in practice. I was just trying to execute.”
“He’s just a freak athlete,” Russo said. “I don’t know if anyone has seen his high school basketball highlights, but they’re just ridiculous.”
“He can do almost anything,” Blue said. “We always believe in AK.”
Injuries were a problem for the Owls. In the third quarter, Jadan Blue took a helmet-to-helmet hit, but later returned. USF’s Antonio Grier was ejected on the play after it was ruled a targeting penalty.
“That one hurt,” Blue said. “That probably hurt the most of any hits in my career.”
Graduate linebacker Isaiah Graham-Mobley wasn’t as lucky, after he suffered an ankle injury before the game even started.
“Right in pregame,” Carey said, shaking his head. “He twisted his ankle.”
Junior Adam Klein also suffered an injury in the fourth quarter and did not return.
Even with the notable injuries and sloppy play throughout, the Owls found a way to piece it all together in the fourth quarter when it mattered most.
“I feel like we were just out of it (in the beginning),” Redshirt Senior Amir Tyler said. “We weren’t playing like Temple defense.”
“This team hangs in there,” Carey said. “They don’t flinch.”
“The defense was feeding off the offense,” Russo said. “The offense was feeding off the defense (in the fourth quarter).”
Saturday’s game marked Philadelphia’s first major sporting event with fans in attendance since the city shutdown last spring thanks to Covid-19. Almost 800 fans were in attendance, as Temple limited ticket sales to family members of players, coaches and staff.
Temple is back in action next Saturday at Memphis. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00pm on ESPN+. The Owls next two games will be on the road before they return home in November.