Owls top UMass, 29-21

For The Recorder
Friday, September 15, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, Penn.  — A disastrous final two minutes of the first half turned brief moments of optimism into another disappointing finish for the UMass football team.

Temple scored two touchdowns in under a minute right before intermission and controlled the game from there, as the Minutemen fell, 29-21, Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.

UMass shook off two first-half field goal misses and briefly took the lead late in the half. Quarterback Andrew Ford led a 64-yard drive with his arm and his feet, and hit Nick Orekoya out of the backfield from 10 yards out to stake the Minutemen to a 7-3 lead with 2:29 left.

That celebration was short-lived, as the rest of the half was disastrous for the Minutemen. Temple answered quickly, covering 73 yards in 79 seconds — the last 30 coming on a Logan Marchi pass lofted over Rodgers to Adonis Jennings to give the home team a 10-7 lead with 1:04 left.

Starting from its own 22 with 58 seconds left, UMass tried to answer. Ford rolled left and had an open receiver deep, but he fumbled the ball when Quincy Roche hit him from behind. After several bounces off a handful of players on either side, Roche recovered at the UMass 18. Two players later, Marchi zipped a touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood with 7 seconds left. Temple missed the extra point, but still led 16-7 at halftime.

The Minutemen spent the rest of the game unsuccessfully trying to dig out of the hole.

UMass (0-4) is at Tennessee on Sept. 29.

Protecting Ford continued to be a problem for UMass, as the junior quarterback was sacked eight times.

Temple’s Ryquell Armstead appeared headed for the end zone when he got past the line at the Owl 29 on the second play of the game and found nobody between him and the goal line. Isaiah Rodgers sprinted diagonally across the field and caught him at the 15 yard line. The defense stiffened from there and forced Temple to settle for a 24-yard field goal that put it ahead 3-0, 2:17 into the game.

The kicking problems that have plagued UMass since its upgrade reappeared right away. Aided by a 29-yard tackle-shaking run by Marquis Young, the Minutemen got all the way to the Temple 4. But after a loss of two yards on an end-around, UMass settled for a 23-yard field goal try by Michael Schreiner that went wide left.

After Isaiah Rodgers blocked a Temple field goal, Schreiner got another chance, this time for 39 yards. This one wasn’t close. It came off his foot like a golf shot when the club hits the ground before the ball, and squirted way low and left.

Following the momentum swing at the end of the first half, UMass punted on its first drive of the second half. Temple stretched its edge to 19-7 with 10:18 left in the third quarter when Aaron Boumerhi hit a 52-yard field goal.

The home team added a 37-yard field goal with 1:52 left in the third quarter, and Marchi hit Isaiah Wright for a 13-yard TD pass late in the fourth to all but seal things.

UMass added a late touchdown, but ran out of time.