A Temple defense that lost its way in recent weeks found its stride just in time for the University of Memphis football team’s visit to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia Saturday afternoon.
The Owls’ defense held the Tiger offense to just 232 yards, and kept them out of the endzone for the first time since Memphis’ 24-3 loss to Ole Miss last season, as Temple cruised to a 31-12 victory over Memphis.
After starting 8-0, Memphis (8-3, 4-3 American Athletic Conference) has now lost three straight games for the first time since the 2013 season. Temple (9-2, 6-1 AAC) with the win remains in control of its destiny to represent the AAC East Division in the inaugural AAC Championship Game.
Tigers’ quarterback Paxton Lynch threw for just 156 passing yards, and saw his streak of 15 consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass snapped in today’s loss. Memphis’ running game couldn’t find its rhythm either as the Tigers rushed the ball 35 times for only 76 yards, and junior running back Sam Craft had 40 of those yards on four rushes.
As a result, Memphis’ offense recorded only 13 first downs, and kicker Jake Elliott converted four of his five field goal attempts to account for all of the Tigers scoring Saturday.
Despite giving up 31 points, the Tiger defense kept Memphis in the game until the fourth quarter. It also created two turnovers on Temple’s first two offensive possessions in the game, but with Memphis’ offense failing to click on all cylinders, the Tigers didn't take full advantage of Temple’s mistakes.
Nevertheless, the Memphis defense faded as the second half progressed. Temple’s offense scored the final 17 points of the game, all of which came in the fourth quarter, and accounted for 461 yards of total offense. Owls' quarterback P.J. Walker threw for 261 yards, two touchdowns and one interception to go along with 49 rushing yards on seven carries in Temple's win.
The Tigers return to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium for the final time this season next Saturday to face the SMU Mustangs. Memphis will be without tight end Alan Cross and linebacker Jackson Dillon for the first half against the Mustangs as both were ejected for targeting in the second half.