Temple Routs Villanova 41-10 on Matt Brown's Big Night

Temple Routs Villanova 41-10 on Matt Brown's Big Night

The fourth and final Mayor's Cup came to a pretty uneventful end by the time the clock struck zero Friday night. By that point, Temple had amassed a 31-point lead and the fourth quarter had played out more like an inconvenient necessity than a dramatic conclusion to a rivalry game.
Still, the Mayor's Cup was a certain success, setting a new record for the third-largest attendance to ever watch a Temple football game at Lincoln Financial Field.
Our assorted notes recap featuring Matt Brown's 270-yard performance, Brandon McManus' history-making night, attendance details, milestones, stats, story lines and postgame audio from the Temple win after the jump...

Milestones-- The announced crowd of 32,709 set a new Mayor's Cup attendance record and was the largest crowd to ever watch a Temple game at the Linc that did not involve Penn State. An encouraging sign for the game's in-question future, the size of the game's crowd grew larger in each of the past four years, moving from 27,759 in 2009 to 32,193 in 2010 to 32,638 in 2011 to 32,709 in 2012.

-- Temple senior kicker Brandon McManus set a school record for field goals made with the 47th field goal of his career on a 24-yard attempt in the fourth quarter. He extended his newly-own record with his 48th conversion as an Owl later in the quarter. The 61-yard punt he unleashed in the second half wasn't bad either.
-- Just barely a year after his first game with the program, Friday night's result secured Steve Addazio his tenth win as the head coach at Temple. The victory was Temple's fifth straight in total and fifth straight at home dating back to last season. The Owls have won their last three season openers in a row, all of them over Villanova.
Team Stats-- Total yards: Temple 362, Villanova 365-- Passing yards: Temple 61, Villanova 163-- Rushing yards: Temple 301, Villanova 212-- First downs: Temple 15, Villanova 18-- Third-down conversions: Temple 6/13, Villanova 5/14-- Turnovers: Temple 0, Villanova 2-- TOI: Temple 30:17, Villanova 29:43
Individual Performances-- Matt Brown, RB -- 270 yards on 26 touches. That kind of speaks for itself, but is worth detailing nonetheless. Brown rushed for 146 yards on 19 attempts, added 84 more yards on four kick returns and yet 41 more on three punt returns. The most important of those 26 touches came with less than a minute to play in the first half. Right after a failed 4th-and-2 attempt set up a Villanova scoring drive that cut the Owls' lead to only 11 -- 21-10 -- Brown ripped a 56-yarder to put the Owls' back up 18 with 21 seconds to go before the break. Addazio and offensive coordinator Ryan Day opted to go for the jugular with the fourth down call, and it would have cost them on the board had Brown not immediately made up for it by putting the game on lockdown with still 30 minutes left to go. For more on Matt Brown's stellar night, including how he recruited himself to Temple by explaining that the program "sucked" anyway and that it might as well take a look at him, click here.
-- Montel Harris, RB -- Through no fault of his own, Harris' Temple debut was underwhelming. He touched the ball just six times in the first half on five rushes and one reception for 20 yards. When Temple came out of the tunnel at the half, Harris took to the sideline in sweatpants and was done for the night. After the game, it was revealed he had been battling a strained hamstring, and tried to give it a go, but was limited. Addazio said he made the decision to pull Harris so that he'd have the best chance to be ready to go in full against Maryland next week.
-- Kenny Harper, FB/RB -- In Harris' absence, Kenny Harper filled in as the complement to Brown, scoring the first two touchdowns of his collegiate career. The first came on an eight-yard shovel pass from Chris Coyer to open the scoring at 7-0 and the second came on a 38-yard run in the second half to push the Temple lead to 35-10. Moving forward, keep an eye on what Temple does with Harper when they start rearranging their backfield in the spread-option. More on that in the section below about the as-yet-unrevealed offensive playbook.
-- Chris Coyer, QB -- Coyer attempted more plays on the ground than through the air and ran for more yards than he passed. It probably won't be the last time that happens this season. The stats broke down to 86 yards and a touchdown on 13 rushing attempts and 61 yards on five completions in 11 passing attempts. To be honest, nothing much to report here as his reps were limited. He started out 3 for 3 before then going 0 for 3 and then 2 for 5. Temple ran the ball as expected, and Coyer did what he had to when asked, with the exception of a couple poor passes on third down. Still, the offense was so vanilla that it was hard to get gauge on anything, and he certainly wasn't going to get into any kind of rhythm passing the ball. In short, he was fine.
-- Vaughn Carraway, FS -- As good as Brown was, it was Carraway that swung the game in the second quarter. After a 14-play, 78-yard Villanova drive put the Wildcats on the board with a field goal and down 7-3, the Temple offense left the field on two straight three-and-outs as the game was settling in and the VU beginning to generate a bit of momentum. But when 'Nova QB Chris Polony targeted his star wideout, Norman White, down the left sideline, Carraway came over the top, intercepted the ball and and made multiple would-be tacklers look silly in his 57-yard return to the end zone. It was the second INT of his career and his first touchdown. Just two plays later, a Carraway recovered a Nate Smith-forced fumble. And just three plays after that, Coyer was in the endzone. Those two turnovers advanced the Temple lead from four to 18 points in 48 seconds. Carraway, by the way, also finished with three tackles.
-- Nate Smith, MIKE -- The man who knocked loose the aforementioned Kevin Monangai fumble, Smith led the Temple defense with seven tackles, all of which were unassisted.
Notes and Story lines-- Don't get too excited -- Yes, it was a confidence-instilling, Week 1 blowout victory, but it was against an FCS team that wasn't very good last year, and is missing three key guys on offense. This game should have played out exactly how it did. That fact that Temple took care of business is a good sign, but doesn't say much about how they'll stack up against the Big East.
-- Receivers MIA -- Well-explained by the Inqy's Keith Pompey: "West performance of the game: I hate to do this to the Owls’ outside receivers, especially when Wildcats quarterback Chris Polony completed just 2 of 7 passes and threw an interception. But I can’t overlook that Deon Miller, C.J. Hammond and Ryan Alderman were all held without a catch. Hammond failed to catch a very catchable pass on the deep throw toward the Wildcats' sideline. In Miller's defense, he's getting over an viral illness. But slot receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick, caught two passes for 33 yards, will need help if the Ow
ls expect to keep teams from loading the box to stop the run."

-- Hamstrings can be like the Cranberries -- I mean that they can linger, not that they're in your head. Montel Harris can be a great weapon for Temple this year; he's the nation's active leader in 100-yard rushing games. With any luck, he just needs some rest and a light week of practice.
-- Expanding the playbook -- The Temple offense was remarkably boring Friday night and with good reason. Temple didn't want to show much of anything to Maryland or Penn State -- their next two opponents -- and they didn't. In addressing Harper's performance postgame, Addazio spoke with excitement about what the team might look like in his fully-realized spread and how Harper and slot receivers Jalen Fitzpatrick and Khalif Herbin can all line up at tailback. So how much did they hold back? According to Matt Brown, .01% of the offensive playbook was on display Friday night.
-- Offensive line status report -- They're alive. They protected Coyer well and opened holes for the backs. They're alive.
-- Not So Stormin' Norman -- Norman White, Villanova's pro prospect wideout who missed all of last season with a foot injury, led all Wildcat receivers, but caught just four balls for 33 yards. He dropped at least two balls sent his way, including one that went right through his hands on third down. Temple doubled-up him on nearly every passing play. Talley said after that the double coverage obviously kept White's touches down, but that there were other times when quarterbacks Chris Polony and John Robertson simply missed their open receiver because they were forced to pull the ball down under pressure.
-- Fight song drowns out Talley -- Just as Andy Talley took the podium to address the media, the Temple locker room began signing the "T for Temple U" fight song. Superb timing. Listen to that audio here and Steve Addazio's postgame address below.
 
Next Up-- Temple hosts the Maryland Terrapins next Saturday at Noon. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

Temple QB Phillip Walker provides leadership, offensive spark as Owls beat Charlotte

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Temple QB Phillip Walker provides leadership, offensive spark as Owls beat Charlotte

BOX SCORE

Temple quarterback Phillip Walker rolled on the ground in pain after taking a shot late in the first quarter and was immediately forced to the sideline.

With the Owls already trailing and their starting QB’s shoulder dinged up, things certainly weren’t going how the team envisioned opening up its homecoming game at Lincoln Financial Field. 

“It’s a nagging injury that comes and goes,” Walker said.

The pain was able to quickly go away, and then the Owls were able to go off.

Walker returned after a one-play absence to throw a deep touchdown pass and spark 28 unanswered points by Temple during the second quarter of a 48-20 win over Charlotte (see Instant Replay).

The Owls (2-2, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) evened their record with the win before opening up AAC play next week against SMU.

“It was big for us just because we needed to get going offensively,” Walker said of his beautiful 51-yard touchdown pass to Adonis Jennings on the first play of the second quarter. “We knew it would happen. It just takes time. A lot of people come with the same energy every game at the beginning of the game. Just let that energy wear off a little bit. Once you get your opportunity, then you take your shots and make your plays as an offense.”

The Owls’ offense made plenty of plays during that big second quarter. 

A couple of possessions after Walker’s TD pass gave Temple back the lead, the Owls got a gift when Charlotte (1-3, 0-0 Conference USA) quarterback Kevin Olsen and running back Kalif Phillips botched a read-option exchange. The fumble was scooped up by TU defensive lineman Praise Martin-Oguike and returned 20 yards to the 49ers’ 13-yard line. On the very next play, Jahad Thomas scampered around the left side for a touchdown.

Temple’s defense then forced a three-and-out to get the ball right back for Walker, who connected with Brodrick Yancy on a 40-yard score to break the game open.

Ryquell Armstead tacked on a one-yard touchdown plunge right before halftime to give the Owls a 31-7 advantage at the break.

In all, the Owls outscored the 49ers 28-0 and outgained them 176-66 during the period.

“Once we got the turnover, we had another opportunity in the red zone to make something happen and we did,” Walker said. “Give us the ball in the red zone, we have to capitalize off of it and we have to be able to make a play.”

“I thought the turnovers and field position started helping hitting the big play,” Temple head coach Matt Rhule said. “I just think we kind of settled down on offense, got into a rhythm. I think you’re seeing that we’re able to get our quarterback into a rhythm and he’s playing pretty well.”

Temple got contributions from several key players on offense to rack up 507 total yards and 26 first downs in the victory. Thomas and Armstead each had a pair of rushing touchdowns. Eight different players caught passes with five reaching at least 40 yards, including sophomore wideout Yancy, who had four receptions for 70 yards and a score.

However, it all starts with Walker as he continued to build on the momentum he found last week against Penn State. Walker completed 15 of 26 attempts for 268 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The senior quarterback is starting to hit his stride at the right time with conference play coming up and his teammates are following his lead.

“He likes throwing the ball. The more we catch the ball for him the more it makes him look good, makes others look good and allows us to run the offense the way it can be run,” Yancy said.

“He’s been productive,” Thomas said. “Definitely coming into the season he was talking about his completion percentage. He’s a senior now. He feels more comfortable just getting his feet set. When you don’t have people breathing down your neck all the time you can be comfortable out there, so I’m quite sure that’s the reason why he’s playing so well in the last two games.”

With the defense still showing some warts (429 total yards allowed to Charlotte, including 231 on the ground) and the meat of the schedule coming up with conference play, Temple will be counting on Walker to keep his game at a high level to help the Owls defend their East Division crown.

“Looking forward to it,” Walker said of opening up the AAC portion of the schedule. “There are a lot of great teams in this conference. I think this conference can go either way whether it’s anyone from the West or anyone from the East. There’s a lot of great talent. We just have to bring our A game every week. We’ve got a long stretch here, so we just have to come out here and play our game.”

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

Phillies' Darin Ruf could be facing quiet goodbye

The final eight games remaining on the Phillies’ 2016 schedule will undoubtedly serve as a farewell to Ryan Howard.

Lost in the background may be the fact this week could quite possibly be the end for the man who was supposed to platoon alongside him this year, as well: Darin Ruf.

Both men have been supplanted by Tommy Joseph, who's hit 21 home runs in just 100 games this year while positioning himself as the Phillies first baseman of the near future.

Ruf will start Saturday night against Mets’ lefthander Sean Gilmartin. The Phillies are not scheduled to face a lefty starter for the rest of the season, so Saturday could be one of the final chances to see Ruf in a Phillies uniform, especially considering manager Pete Mackanin’s stated intent to give Howard more playing time down the stretch.

“It seemed like we never faced a lefty for the first month of the season. So that didn’t help Ruf at the time,” Mackanin said.  “Joseph entered the picture and made an immediate impression.”

Ruf’s departure from the majors set the stage for Joseph’s immediate emergence. At the time of his May 13 demotion to AAA Lehigh Valley – and Joseph’s promotion -- Ruf was had a .158/.206/.193 slash line.
  
Since his Sept. 1 return to the majors after rosters expanded, Ruf has done what he can to make sure his possible final season in a Phillies uniform ends on a high note. On Friday night, he drilled a home run to left center off Mets reliever Josh Smoker in pinch-hit duty, the first time Ruf had gone yard since Oct. 1, 2015.

“It felt good,” Ruf said about ending his home run drought. “You just try to simply things and last night it worked out for me.”

Where Ruf will be next year is a more complicated matter, as the 30-year-old is out of minor league options. Japanese scouts were spotted at the games he played for AAA Lehigh Valley.

With Lehigh Valley, Ruf received an opportunity he’s never truly been able to get with the Phillies due to the longstanding presence of Howard: a chance to play every day and consistently accumulate plate appearances. He hit .294/.356/.529 in 390 trips to the plate for the IronPigs. 

Ruf has never made more than 300 plate appearances in a major league season and would struggle to crack that number if he remains in Philadelphia as a backup to Joseph, who will still be 25 on opening day next year.

“I learned [this year] that you can’t take anything for granted in this game,” Ruf said. “You’ve just got to keep working to get better every day, got to put up numbers no matter where you’re at in order to get to where you want. 

“Hopefully, wherever I’m at next year, I can do that.”