By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Temple Owls are into their first bye week of the season and it comes after one of the best starts in program history.
Temple is 3-0 for the first time since 2010 and the Owls are on the outskirts of the Top 25 in both the AP and Coaches Polls.
The third win for Temple came this past Saturday as the Owls won a wild game in Foxborough over UMass, 25-23. Temple led for the vast majority of the game, but the Minutemen took their first lead on a touchdown with 80 seconds remaining. The Owls came up with a huge play on special teams though when they blocked the ensuing extra point and returned it for two points. Temple then put together a 50-yard drive to win the game on a 32-yard Austin Jones field goal in the final seconds.
“I was really proud of our guys,” Temple head coach Matt Rhule tells KYW Newsradio. “I thought, number one, they made some plays you don’t see very often, running back an extra point, winning in the two minute on the last play. And more importantly, we knew it was going to be a dog fight, it’s going to be that way every week. Everyone’s going to have their sights set on us and I was proud of our kids that they didn’t panic, they just kept playing.”
Listen to the entire interview with Temple’s Matt Rhule
Junior quarterback P.J. Walker was clutch on that final scoring drive for the Owls, completing 6 of 9 passes for 50 yards.
“I think the last drive showed that he’s the leader,” Rhule says. “I think the last drive showed that he’s a winner. We’re a running team first, probably, but we’re going to do whatever it takes to win. People take away the run, we have to be ready to throw the football. I was just pleased with the fact that so many different guys caught the ball, so many different guys made plays and P.J. distributed the ball around. At least we know leaving this game that hey, we when we need to, we can throw the ball and we can throw it at a high level.”
For the game, Walker was 28 of 48 for 391 yards and a score. He also threw two interceptions.
As for the bye week, Rhule says he welcomes it.
“These kids have worked really hard,” Rhule says. “It was been a long preseason camp, it was a tough three weeks, hard fought three weeks, a lot of adversity and I think everyone’s probably just a little bit tired, I know I am. So just to have a week where we can sit back, regroup, get our bodies healthy, the kids can concentrate on school. I look forward to getting back on the practice field next Monday, you know we’ll do a couple things this week. But I think our guys have earned just a little time to step away, get healthy and focus on things other than just football.”
The Owls will return from the bye on Friday night, October 2nd when they visit Charlotte.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.