By Jacob Rice
The Memphis Tigers (3-1) found more ways to keep winning, this time against AAC opponent Temple (1-2).
Although it was not a dominant win, the Tigers bested the Owls in close match that could have went down to the wire. A 41-29 conference win helped Memphis rise in the American Conference standings. Coach Ryan Silverfield said he was proud of his team, but they still have a lot to work on.
"We still gave up too many passing yards and big plays," Silverfield said. "But I was proud. I can live with the other stats as long as we come away with the win."
Memphis battled with Temple and neither team ever really pulled away. The largest lead the Tigers ever had was 12 points. Temple's largest lead was five points going into halftime. It was a one-possession game for over half of the contest.
Once again, the Tigers rolled out to a slow start, scoring only 10 points and having 147 offensive yards in the first half. The Memphis offense looked bleak going into halftime down 10-15. Silverfield said he would like to be a four-quarter team and it starts with him.
"We have to find better ways to start fast," Silverfield said. "I don't want to be known as a just second half football team."
The Tigers returned as a different team as they have in previous games. The Owls had an abysmal start to the second half, turning the ball over twice and allowing Memphis to score 17 unanswered points. Over the course of seven plays, the Tigers scored two touchdowns from a Temple fumble and an interception.
By the end of the game, the Tigers outscored Temple 31-14 after halftime and did just enough to keep the lead. Memphis never trailed after they took the lead in the third quarter.
Brady White ended the game with 313 passing yards, four touchdowns and an interception. White said going 1-0 is the ultimate goal and he enjoyed how the team responded in the second half.
"It clearly wasn't perfect," White said. "A win is a win and we got the job done."
Three Memphis receivers accounted for 301 of White's passing yards. Calvin Austin III had a career game, ending with 184 yards on six catches, one of them being a 65-yard touchdown. Tahj Washington had 77 receiving yards with five catches and two touchdowns. Javon Ivory also snagged three catches for 40 yards and a touchdown.
The defensive standout for Memphis was defensive back Rodney Owens. Owens picked off Temple quarterback Anthony Russo twice and nearly went for a third. Owens said his preparation and his work ethic set him up for success.
"I'm the type of guy that is always ready for that moment, and I like to rise to the occasion when I have a chance."
Both teams combined for seven turnovers, Memphis lost two fumbles and an interception. The Owls lost a fumble and Temple's quarterback Anthony Russo threw three interceptions. 27 points were scored from turnovers, 24 of them being for Memphis.
This game evens the total wins between the two teams. The previous six matchups now have Memphis and Temple each winning three. Last season the Tigers had to suffer a loss in Philadelphia to the Owls after a controversial call hurt the chances for Memphis to stay undefeated.
Temple went on to win their homecoming game. Now the Tigers are victors on homecoming with an estimated 10,321 people in the Liberty Bowl that watched.