College football capsule: Army at Temple


College football capsule: Army at Temple

Temple tries -- yet again -- to get Matt Rhule his first win and to avoid its worst start since 2006 …

Temple (0-6, 0-3 American) vs. Army (3-4)
Lincoln Financial Field - Philadelphia, Pa.
Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN3

Temple (+1)

This one actually opened Temple (-3). The Owls are 3-3 against the spread this season, but 0-3 in games with single-digit numbers.

Scouting Temple
P.J. Walker impressed in his first college start, but also made some decisions that reminded everyone he's a true freshman. Walker went 12 for 22 for 200 yards passing, threw for a touchdown and two picks, and ran for 47 yards in Temple’s 38-20 loss at Cincinnati last Friday night. He led Temple to 20 first-half points, but got blanked in the second half.

Unfortunately for an offense that's shown new life under Walker, the Owls' kicking issues made an unfortunate return last week as Nick Visco banged one of his extra point attempts off the right upright. Temple had gone two games without a missed kick and three without a missed extra point. Rhule said Tuesday that Visco will continue his place kicking duties for the foreseeable future and that Tyler Mayes could supplant Jim Cooper Jr. this week on kickoffs.

On defense, the Owls are still letting up points and yards, but sophomore linebacker Tyler Matakevich leads the nation in solo tackles with 65. No one else has more than 45. 

Scouting Army
Matakevich will have plenty of opportunities to tackle this week against an Army team that runs nearly every play.

The Black Knights' triple-option offense leads the nation in rushing yards with 352.3 yards per game. Of course, their passing offense is third to last in the FBS (66.7 ypg). They run the ball 59.7 times per game against a nation-low 11 passing attempts.

Quarterback Angel Santiago has taken over for four-year starter Trent Steelman. Terry Baggett (77 for 744) is Army's leading rusher and put up 304 yards on Eastern Michigan last week. Senior rusher and West Catholic grad Raymond Maples will miss his fifth game in a row with a groin injury.

Army has won three of its seven games, but those victories have come against FCS Morgan State and two FBS teams -- Louisiana Tech and Eastern Michigan -- with a combined record of 1-9. Its four losses -- to Ball State, Stanford, Wake Forest and Boston College -- have come by an average of 18.5 points.

Temple leads the all-time series 6-4, but has won the last five games -- three of those five have been by margins of 28 points or more.

In 2010, Owls running back Matt Brown set what was then a single-game program record with four touchdowns at Michie Stadium. And in the return trip to West Point in 2012, Montel Harris set new program and Big East records with 351 yards and seven touchdowns in a 63-32 Temple win. 

Flying the flag
Backup quarterback Connor Reilly carried the American flag as the Owls took the field the last two seasons. His father, Lt. Col. Neil Reilly, served with the Army in Afghanistan and flew the Temple flag over his battalion while deployed, carrying the flag with him on each mission.

Somebody has to win
Temple hasn't won a home game since it beat South Florida in the Big East conference opener Oct. 6 of last year. The Owls have dropped their last six in a row at Lincoln Financial Field.

Army, meanwhile, has never won at the Linc. Including Army-Navy games, the Black Knights are 0-10 since the stadium opened in 2004.

Counting Temple, Army and the Eagles, the home team is winless at the Linc in its last 15 tries.

Recommended reading
When’s the last time the home team won a football game at Lincoln Financial Field? [The700Level]

Penn State's signature win over Ohio State has it feeling it's back on map

Penn State's signature win over Ohio State has it feeling it's back on map

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – In another day and time, the late John Facenda — the voice of NFL Films and the very “Voice of God,” as he came to be known — described Marcus Allen “running with the night” while scoring a particularly memorable touchdown for the Raiders in a Super Bowl victory over Washington.

On Saturday, another Marcus Allen went soaring into the night, not to mention Penn State lore.

A blocked field goal by the Nittany Lions’ junior safety resulted in a go-ahead 60-yard TD return by teammate Grant Haley, as PSU upset No. 2 Ohio State in Beaver Stadium, 24-21 (see story). That led to the team’s fans, dressed appropriately for a White Out, to storm the field, and led to the kind of emotions that hadn’t been felt on campus in a long, long time.

“This is for everybody,” coach James Franklin said.

The Langhorne native talked about the game being “a big step in the right direction” as far as healing a community wounded by the Jerry Sandusky child sexual-abuse scandal. He talked, with tears in his eyes, about the death of his brother-in-law four days earlier.

Yet he didn’t wish to discuss whether it was the kind of signature victory he needed to propel the program back toward prominence (or, for that matter, ensure his job security).

“That’s for you (media) guys, all that signature stuff,” he said, adding that he “didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the big picture.”

Rather, he said, “I just want to enjoy tonight.”

Understandable, since the Lions, 5-2 after their third straight victory this season, beat a ranked team for the first time since 2013 (No. 14 Wisconsin), beat a team ranked in the top five for the first time since 1999 (No. 4 Arizona) and earned a victory over their highest-ranked opponent since knocking off No. 1 Notre Dame in 1990.

PSU also snapped a 20-game road winning streak on the part of the Buckeyes (7-1). Seventeen of those victories had come in Big Ten play.

Few people saw it coming, though middle linebacker Jason Cabinda said that amid a sleepless Friday night at the team hotel, he and his roommate, fellow ‘backer Manny Bowen, allowed themselves to dream.

“We were just talking about how great it would be to pull this off,” he said, “and how we believed we could pull this off, and how it would be like writing history.”

It was already etched upon the pages of Brandon Bell’s mind.

“This was no fluke,” the senior linebacker said. “This is what we train for. This is what we go out there and play for. Obviously everybody is (saying) we shocked the world, but this is what you expect. Or what I expect.”

Bell, playing for the first time since the season’s second week because of a leg injury, had a career-high 19 tackles and one of his team’s six sacks. Cabinda, playing for the first time since the opener because of a hand injury, had 12 tackles and a sack of his own. Bowen added 11 stops, and defensive end Garrett Sickels, suspended for the first half for violating a team rule, had career highs of nine tackles, 3½ tackles for loss and 2½ sacks.

“Maybe,” Franklin said, “I should suspend him for the first half for the season.”

With Cabinda and Bell back, the Lions were more aggressive on defense than they had been, more varied. Yet the game seemed to be getting away from them when Ohio State built a 21-7 lead through three quarters.

J.T. Barrett, the Buckeyes’ splendid quarterback, had thrown for one touchdown, Curtis Samuel had busted off a 71-yard run for another and PSU’s repeated special-teams blunders (a blocked field goal, a fumbled punt and a bad snap on a punt) had left the Lions staring up at a team that had won its previous 78 games when leading by 14 points or more in the fourth quarter.

OSU had, however, been extended to overtime the previous weekend at Wisconsin, while PSU had a bye, two things that might very well have contributed to all that happened next. You had Lions QB Trace McSorley capping a brisk 90-yard drive with a scoring run early in the final period. And freshman linebacker Cam Brown blocking a punt (even though the block wasn’t on) to set up Tyler Davis’ field goal, cutting the gap to 21-17 with 9:33 left.

Then Allen blocked Tyler Durbin’s 45-yard field goal attempt as well, the first time since 2007 the Lions had rejected two kicks in the same game. Haley collected the rebound and set sail down the left sideline.

Durbin and holder Cameron Johnston gave chase, and Johnston, the punter, closed the gap on Haley, one of the fastest guys on Penn State’s team.

“I told him, ‘If you would have gotten caught by the kicker I never would have let you live that down,’” McSorley said.

Never mind that — Haley admitted he would have never forgiven himself.

He managed to make it the distance, though, and after Ohio State’s final drive ended with a pair of sacks, PSU had the victory.

When the gun sounded several Lions sprinted toward the student section at the south end of the stadium and performed their own version of the Lambeau Leap. And as the fans spilled out onto the field, two male spectators turned to each other high up in the west stands.

“We’re back in business,” one said to the other.

That seemed to be the feeling in the locker room, too.

“It’s just a game that put Penn State back on the map,” Haley said. “We needed that signature win, and we did it tonight.”

All because Marcus Allen soared, and took everyone else along with him.

Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21

Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – As his team slogged through back-to-back 7-6 seasons in his first two years as Penn State’s head coach, Langhorne native James Franklin heard time and again that he was in need of a signature victory.

Now he has one, even if he refuses to admit it.

Junior cornerback Grant Haley returned a blocked field goal 60 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:27 left as the Nittany Lions stunned second-ranked Ohio State 24-21 on Saturday night.

“That’s for you (media) guys, all that signature stuff,” Franklin said.

Not exactly.

“It’s just a game that put Penn State back on the map,” Haley said. “We needed that signature win, and we did it tonight.”

The fans stormed the field after the Lions, 5-2 after their third straight victory this season, beat a ranked team for the first time since 2013 (Wisconsin). It was also PSU’s first victory over a team ranked in the top five since 1999 (Arizona) and its first over a team slotted as high as No. 2 since 1990 (Notre Dame).

Ohio State (7-1) saw winning streaks of 20 straight road games and 17 straight Big Ten road games come to an end, despite building a 21-7 lead through three quarters.

The Lions whisked 90 yards in five plays to cut the gap to seven with 13:32 left in the game, with quarterback Trace McSorley running two yards for the TD.

Freshman linebacker Cam Brown then blocked Cameron Johnston’s punt to set up a 34-yard field goal by Tyler Davis with 9:33 remaining, making it 21-17.

Ohio State mounted a drive behind J.T. Barrett, their splendid quarterback, moving from its own 13 to the PSU 28. Barrett’s 34-yard connection with wide receiver Noah Brown was the big play.

But the Buckeyes stalled, and Tyler Durbin came on to attempt a 45-yard field goal. Penn State safety Marcus Allen made a leaping block, however, and Haley scooped up the bouncing ball and beat Durbin and Johnston, the holder, down the left sideline for the go-ahead score.

Ohio State’s final drive of the night ended with a pair of Penn State sacks, the last a combined effort by defensive linemen Kevin Givens and Evan Schwan with 1:02 left.

When the final gun sounded, several Penn State players sprinted toward the south end zone and launched themselves into the front row of the stands, Lambeau Leap-style, among the delirious students. And thousands of fans, all clad in white for PSU’s traditional White Out, flooded the field.

“This is for everybody,” Franklin said later. “This community’s been through so much in the last five years (a reference to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and its aftermath), and this is a big step in the right direction, in terms of healing. I said very, very early on that for us to get where we want to be, we need this entire community together, and a win like tonight – I know I’m biased – but I believe that football has the ability to bring a community together like nothing else.”

Moments later, he caught himself and said he “didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the big picture.”

Rather, he added, “I just want to enjoy tonight.”