By Chris Murray
For the Sunday Sun and CM Report
The Maryland Terrapins came into Saturday’s game against the Temple Owls as a 10-point underdog.
However, odds-makers don’t play football and by halftime, the game was a 23-point blowout in favor of Maryland as a listless Temple squad was being drowned by a stingy Terps defense and in a sea of its own penalties and turnovers.
But in the second half, the rejuvenated Owls rallied back to cut the lead to within two late in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as the Terrapins got a late touchdown to put an end to the Temple comeback and came away with a stunning 36-27 victory over the Owls Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
“It was a really a tale of two-halves,” said Maryland head coach Randy Edsall. “The first half we went out and capitalized on big plays and turnovers and then it reversed itself and they made some big plays. To have our guys come on the road against a quality, which Temple is, to fight through adversity to put that last drive together, it really showed me about the heart, the soul and character and belief that these kids have in one another.”
On the Temple side of the field, head coach Steve Addazzio and his team will look at this game and ask themselves what the heck happened, especially in the first half when Maryland jumped out to a 26-3 lead at halftime. Temple quarterback Chris Croyer said the team lacked intensity in the first half.
“We were playing very sloppy and we didn’t come out as fired up as we should have been. We came out very slow,” Croyer said.
The Owls simply couldn’t get out of the way of themselves in the first half and at times during the second half. For the game, they committed five turnovers, three in the first half. They had a couple of bad center snaps over the head of quarterback Chris Croyer’s head led to a safety and slowed down another drive. There were some dropped passes by Owls receivers and a blocked field goal.
“We didn’t get a rhythm going for a lot of reasons, most of which are three turnovers (in the first half),” Addazio said. “It’s hard you turn the ball over, you’re off the field. .. You don’t get a rhythm that way. Then you’re just calling plays, you’ve established nothing.”
Temple committed five penalties for 60 yards in the first half.
Maryland’s defense held the Temple running game to just 52 yards. Matt Brown gained just 31 yards on 10 carries after gaining 146 in last week’s win over Villanova. Inexplicably, Temple passed the ball just three times in the first half. But found some rhythm in the second half, Croyer completed 7-of-18 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
After the first quarter ended with the game tied at 3-3, Maryland seized control of the game in the second quarter and took a 10-3 lead on a 22-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Perry Hills to senior tight end Matt Furstenburg.
Later in the second period, Maryland upped the margin 17-3 on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Hills to Marcus Leak. The four-play, 62-yard drive was helped by a 15-yard penalty personal foul penalty by Temple.
On the Owls next possession, Sean Boyle’s center snap in the shotgun sailed over Croyer’s head and the Owls quarterback recovered the ball in his own endzone for a safety.
Seven plays after getting the ball on a free kick, the Terps got an 11-yard touchdown run by Hills to give the Terrapins a seemingly insurmountable lead at the half. The last scoring drive of the half was aided by a roughing the passer penalty by the Owls.
“I don’t what it was on defense, a couple of dumb penalties, personal fouls and missed opportunities today,” said Temple linebacker Nate Smith.
In the second half, things seemed to be going Temple’s way when the Owls recovered a fumble on Maryland’s first play of the second half. It took just four plays and 35 yards for Kenny Harper’s one yard run to cut the lead to 26-10.
But the Terps refused to fold and marched 67 yards in 12 plays for a 26-yard field goal that gave Maryland a 29-10 lead. The big play on that drive came on a third and 17 play from the Maryland 18 when Hills hit Marcus Leak for a pass that was good for a 39-yard gain.
On its next possession, Temple got a 62-yard touchdown pass from Croyer to C.J. Hammond to cut the lead 29-17. When the Owls got the ball back they moved from their 40 to the Temple 23, but another bad snap by Boyle pushed the ball back to the 47. They managed to move back to field goal range and settle for a field goal.
The Owls had another opportunity for points after recovering a Maryland fumble at the Terps 12. But Temple wound up with nothing after Maryland’s A.J Francis blocked would what have been a chip shot field goal by Brian McManus.
Temple got the ball back one play late when Maryland’s Wes Brown fumbled at the Terps 49. Three plays later, Croyer hit Jalen Fitzpatrick for a 35-yard touchdown pass and that’s as close as Temple would come.
Maryland marched 75 yards in 11 plays to the seven-yard touchdown by running Justus Pickett that sealed the game for the Terrapins.