Saturday, October 01, 2011

Rockets rout Temple

By John McMullen

PHILADELPHIA (The Phanatic Magazine) - Temple failed to follow-up an impressive win in Maryland last week, falling to Toledo, 36-13, in the opener of MAC play at Lincoln Financial Field.

David Fluellen scored three touchdowns, two on the ground and one through the air, for the Rockets (2-3, 0-1 MAC), the preseason favorites in the conference who played a very tough non-conference schedule.

Chester Stewart struggled at quarterback, completing 10-of-20 passes for 171 yards with a TD and two interceptions for the Owls (3-2, 0-1 MAC), who had four key turnovers in the game.

Stewart added another 47 yards rushing while Bernard Pierce finished with 75 yards on 24 carries for Temple.

Temple nearly cashed in on its first offensive possession but Stewart and Pierce field to connect on a well-designed screen that would have allowed Pierce to walk in to the end zone. Instead the Owls' settled for a 30-yard Brandon McManus field goal and an early 3-0 advantage.

Mistakes continued to be the story from there. A big one on special teams cost Temple the lead later in the first quarter. Matt Brown botched a Vince Penza punt just outside the 10-yard line, setting up the Rockets with a short field Moments later Fluellen plunged in from a yard out and Eric Page added to that with a two-point conversion to put Toledo on top 8-3.

Stewart then badly overthrew a wide-open Evan Rodriguez on the ensuing possession, enabling Toledo's Ross Madison to make the easy interception. Morgan Williams made the Owls pay four plays later when he took a direct snap on a 4th-and-1 play from the 32 and rumbled up the gut of an over pursuing Temple defense for a 32-yard TD run, giving Toledo a 15-3 lead.

The Owls got back in it when Pierce played dividends as a decoy on the first play of the second quarter. Toledo bit big on play action and Stewart connected with Rodriguez on a simple square out. The h-back turned it up field and sprinted to the end zone for a 55-yard TD.

McManus' second field goal of the game, a 37-yarder with 7:22 left before intermission, cut the Rockets lead to 15-13.

Toledo answered with some trickery, utilizing the athleticism of backup quarterback Dwight Macon. Page got the handoff for a reverse but stopped and threw back across the field for Macon, who made Kee-ayre Griffen miss en route to a 33-yard TD and a 22-13 Rockets edge.

Toledo extended its lead to 29-13 early in the third after Fluellen capped an eight play, 58-yard drive by taking a simple swing pass 20 yards for a TD.

Fluellen on the swing pass kept killing the Owls in the fourth quarter. This time the sophomore running back took it 43 yards all the day down to the Temple 1-yard line before taking it in himself two plays later.

OWL Droppings:

*McManus' second quarter field goal was his 36th at Temple, passing Don Bitterlich (1973-75) and tying Cap Poklemba (1999-02) for second on the Owls' all-time list. Bill Wright (1985-88) is first with 46.

*Pierce now has 2,660 career rushing yards. He passes Anthony Anderson (1975-78) for third on the all-time Owls list and now trails only Tanardo Sharps (1999-02) with 3,260 and Paul Palmer (1983-86) with 4,895).

Scout's Honor:

*This Owls team isn't built to play from behind. The obvious strength of the club is Pierce and a veteran offensive line but there are some good receivers. Rodriguez is always a problem as a hybrid tight end/fullback and NFL teams would covet the size Rod Streater and Deon Miller bring to the table.
Meanwhile, both Joe Jones and Matt Brown can do some serious damage in space. Problem is, Stewart is woefully inaccurate at times. He seems to lose his mechanics when things speed up and gets very wild high and very susceptible to the interception in the middle of the field.

*The Temple linebackers were really exposed in pass coverage. Toledo beat the Owls LBs to the edge with swing passes all day and they were the simple variety, extended handoffs, not well-designed misdirection.

No comments: