PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Surrendering big plays has plagued Temple all season, and it did so again Saturday in the Owls’ 34-10 Big East loss to Cincinnati.
Temple gave up seven plays of 20 yards or more, and Cincinnati senior quarterback Brendon Kay, making his first start, riddled the Owls’ secondary for 244 yards passing and two touchdowns.
The Owls (3-6, 2-4), in their first Big East season since 2004, lost for the fourth straight time.
Temple, which has been outscored 86-27 in the first half the last three weeks, wasn’t able to do much against Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1). The Owls’ leading rusher, Montel Harris, injured his left knee after losing 3 yards on a screen pass with 12:38 left in the second quarter and never returned.
Temple starting quarterback Chris Coyer was replaced by Clinton Granger in the second half. Granger promptly guided the Owls to their only touchdown, ending an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Cody Booth with 8:55 left in the third quarter.
It was Granger’s first career touchdown pass. He finished 7-of-15 for 86 yards.
Defensively, Cincinnati’s big plays gnawed at Owls coach Steve Addazio.
“I think this is clearly where we are right now. There are very few games, other than the Pitt game, but the other games were a lot like that (giving up big plays). They come in bunches on us,” Addazio said. “I’m very disappointed in the back end.”
Senior defensive end John Youboty was one of the Owls’ few bright spots, with two sacks for minus-6 yards.
“The game came down to four or five plays where we had a second chance to stop the other team — it would have been a completely different game,” Youboty said. “We have to work on that and get better for next week. I wouldn’t say we’re (making the same mistakes) on the same exact plays, but they’re similar. Obviously, we have to get that changed and turn the corner before our next game.”
Offensively, the Owls’ struggles centered on Coyer. He guided Temple to one score, a 12-play, 72-yard drive that resulted in a 20-yard Brandon McManus field goal with 2:36 left in the first quarter. The field goal drewTemple within 7-3.
But Kay and the Bearcats responded with touchdowns on consecutive drives, and Coyer finished the half by throwing an interception, which translated into three more points for Cincinnati and a 24-3 halftime deficit.
“There were definitely a few throws I wish I could have back, but I can’t,” said Coyer, who was 5-for-16 passing for 56 yards and picked up 34 yards rushing on six carries. “The problem has been consistency. There are times that I made the right reads and made good throws, and there were times I did not. It’s all about consistency.”
Since going up 10-0 in the first half against Rutgers on Oct. 20, the Owls have been outscored 161-44.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, appears to have righted what had been a slew of recent turnovers. Kay was an efficient 13-for-21, including touchdown passes of 75 and 65 yards. But Kay did a little of everything, rushing for 71 yards on seven carries and also making a 5-yard reception, when he caught his own deflected pass.
Kay replaced starter Munchie Legaux, who had been ineffective for the Bearcats, throwing nine interceptions, including six in the Bearcats’ last three games. Kay stepped in and played well considering he hadn’t started a game since his senior year at Marine City (Mich.) High School in 2007.
“All the time you put in and all the hours you put in behind closed doors that the people don’t see, but the guys on the team see it, so they trust in you,” Kay said. “You get in there and calm yourself down. I managed the offense and gave us an opportunity to win. I went through knee surgeries to get here. There were plenty of times when I questioned whether or not I’d ever play again. There were some people that said I couldn’t and that was my motivation to get back.”
Kay didn’t turn the ball over in directing the Bearcats on scoring drives of 74, 75, 80, 94 and 71 yards.
“We had a few third downs where we had a chance to get off the field, and all of a sudden the quarterback is pulling the ball down, running with it, and we’ve got a guy assigned to him and that just doesn’t get done,” Addazio said. “But you know what, that will get done. There will come a time that will get done.”
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