Syracuse rocks Temple, 38-20

Temple quarterback Juice Granger is brought down by a sea of orange in the second half. (David Swanson/Staff Photographer)
Temple quarterback Juice Granger is brought down by a sea of orange in the second half. (David Swanson/Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 24, 2012

After saying goodbye to 12 seniors in their final home game, Temple said farewell to its last remaining hope to earn a bowl bid.

The Owls needed to play close-to-perfect defense against Syracuse on Friday at Lincoln Financial Field, and they weren't close. The result was a 38-20 defeat that destroyed any chance of extending the season.

Temple ended its first season back in the Big East with a 4-7 record, 2-5 in the conference.

The Orange (7-5, 5-2) rushed for 260 yards, and the pride of Malvern Prep, Ryan Nassib, kept making key completions.

The fifth-year senior completed 16 of 28 passes for 215 yards and a touchdown.

Before the game, there was talk that a victory over the Orange could keep the Owls' bowl hopes alive. Five victories may be enough if there are not enough teams with winning records to become bowl-eligible. As of Thursday, there were 63 bowl-eligible squads. The magic number is 70 - two teams for each of the 35 bowl games.

But Syracuse's back-to-back 75-yard scoring drives in the second half ruined Temple's chances.

Before those drives, the Owls clung to a three-point lead. The second touchdown - a 3-yard plunge by reserve halfback Prince-Tyson Gulley - gave the Orange a 31-20 lead with 13 minutes, 27 seconds remaining.

"What happens to us is that we have a hard time responding to that," said Owls coach Steve Addazio, whose defense surrendered 475 yards. "We just get off-kilter. I thought we maintained our poise really quite well until that point.

"But then we kind of jumbled up on offense a little as well, once we gave up those two things."

Temple punted quickly on its next two possessions. Then quarterback Juice Granger threw interceptions to cornerback Keon Lyn on each of the Owls' final two drives. Lyn returned his first pick 31 yards for a touchdown to make it 38-20.

Early on, Temple benefited from fumbles on Syracuse's first two drives. The Owls led, 10-0, after Granger's 12-yard TD pass to John Christopher with seven seconds left in the first quarter.

However, Syracuse gained momentum from there and held onto the ball. Temple's defense struggled to make stops.

Syracuse halfback Jerome Smith finished with 96 yards on 20 carries. Gulley had 13 carries for 83 yards. Reserve running back Adonis Aimeen-Moore added 57 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

Temple's Montel Harris had a game-high 106 rushing yards on 21 carries. Granger completed 16 of 23 passes for 173 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. The dual-threat QB also had 61 yards and a TD on 15 carries.

Tyler Matakevich, a freshman linebacker for Temple, finished with 14 tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

"They just caught breaks," Matakevich said. "That was a great football team. We fought hard and gave them everything we possibly can."

Contact Keith Pompey at Follow him on Twitter @pompeysgridlock

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