By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Temple will continue with American Athletic Conference play on Saturday afternoon when the Owls visit East Carolina.

Temple sits at 2-3 on the season (0-2 in the AAC) after last weekend’s 20-13 loss to Houston at the Linc. The Owls fell into a 20-0 hole after Houston scored a touchdown on its first possession of the third quarter. But from that point on it was the Owls who controlled play, scoring the game’s final 13 points, but they weren’t able to get a final score to draw even.

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“In the second half it just started clicking,” Temple head coach Geoff Collins tells KYW Newsradio. “I think we’ve got a tough team, we’ve got a physical team, they don’t quit. The older guys that are in that locker room as the leaders kind of made sure they willed the rest of the team in that second half and I was really, really proud of them.”

After rushing for -4 yards in their loss to South Florida, the Owls’ running attack bounced back against the Cougars, logging 142 yards on the ground. Collins says the success was really a team effort, starting with an offensive line that he says did a good job of recognizing fronts and moving the defense off the ball.

“Our running backs did a really good job of just trusting where the hole was supposed to be and hitting it really, really hard,” he says. “So you saw some really tough, physical runs on Saturday. I was proud of the guys, how they came out and they blocked on the perimeter, the receivers did and really tried to establish a punishing run game out of some different sets than we’ve used this year.”

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The Owls could have even more success on the ground against the Pirates as East Carolina (1-4, 1-1 AAC) is allowing 297.6 yards a game rushing this season. Those struggles are a big reason why the Pirates are also allowing 50.6 points per game.

On the other side of the football, Collins says East Carolina will present challenges.

“They can spin the ball around,” he says. “They’ve got playmakers, they’ve got a quarterback [Thomas Sirk] that has a really good release, puts the ball on time. Don’t give up a lot of sacks, they complete a lot of passes.”

Last year these two teams met at the Linc, with Temple smacking the Pirates, 37-10.

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Saturday’s game in Greenville, North Carolina kicks off at noon.