Temple hopes to rebound from disheartening loss

Freshman P.J. Walker, one of three QBs used by Temple , is sacked in the third quarter. The Owls' 0-3 start is their worst since since dropping five straight in '07. RON TARVER / Staff
Freshman P.J. Walker, one of three QBs used by Temple , is sacked in the third quarter. The Owls' 0-3 start is their worst since since dropping five straight in '07. RON TARVER / Staff
Posted: September 17, 2013

Temple running back Zaire Williams wasn't speaking for everyone on his team, but surely many of them felt the same gnawing feeling in their gut that Williams described after letting yet another victory slip through their hands late.

"I feel dead inside," the freshman running back said in the aftermath of Saturday's 30-29 loss to Football Championship Subdivision opponent Fordham.

Williams gained 81 yards on 14 carries and was part of a rushing attack spearheaded by Kenny Harper (105 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries) that churned out 245 yards. But the Owls have lost their first three games to start the season for the first time since going 0-5 to start 2007. And they don't play another game until they travel to Idaho on Sept. 28.

"We'll get it fixed," coach Matt Rhule said. "Well take this week off from games, but we're going to get this team fixed right now moving forward."

Lame as the offense has been, the equally bad defense left a lasting bad taste in the mouths of Temple fans who attended Saturday's game. They watched a defense that couldn't get pressure on Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich, who was 23 of 36 passing for 320 yards and two touchdowns.

As a result, Temple gave up the decisive score - a 29-yard pass from Nebrich to Sam Ajala (seven catches for 134 yards and a touchdown) - with just four seconds left in the game. It marked the second game in as many weeks that the defense has given up a crucial touchdown in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.

Offensively, the Owls used three quarterbacks and got just decent results out of one. However, the three touchdowns that Connor Reilly led the Owls to didn't come until after they had fallen behind, 20-7, late in the third quarter.

They have scored just seven touchdowns in three games (four of them coming from Harper) and have just one passing touchdown. They also have been unable to rely on their kicking game, which on Saturday was again problematic. Going back to last year, the Owls have lost eight of their last nine games.

"It will be a working two weeks for us," Rhule said. "I'm not discouraged. We've had some good play out of some guys. But we have to get this turned around, and I think we will."


Contact John N. Mitchell at  jmitchell@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.

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