The Temple Owls improved their record to 6-0 this season after a 30-16 victory over UCF behind three Jahad Thomas rushing touchdowns.
Jahad Thomas rushed for a career-high 199 yards and three touchdowns as the Temple Owls defeated the University of Central Florida Golden Knights 30-16. The crowd of 31,372 were on hand to see a game that was closer than what many thought was not going to be a close contest.
“We’re really happy to be 6-0,” said Temple head coach Matt Rhule. “For guys that went 2-10, for guys that didn’t go to a bowl game, the guys that stuck with us, the guys that worked, to know that they are 6-0 and bowl eligible, I’m really proud of them, and I’m happy for them. It talks about the character of the guys in the room.”
Temple was able to score on their opening drive of the game. It was the first time since the Tulsa game last season they scored a touchdown on the opening drive.
A key play in the game came in the second quarter. After the Owls had blocked a UCF punt, Walker’s throw was intercepted by UCF defensive back Shaquill Griffin and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. At that point, momentum shifted toward Central Florida. Temple’s offense looked sluggish after that.
Right before entering the locker room at halftime, Rhule huddled his team around him and gave a passionate speech.
“I wanted them to seize the moment,” said Rhule. “Sometimes when we play at home, we just get so caught up in everything. When you are on the road, it’s a little more like a bunker mentality. I told them to look around, look at the sky, look at the stadium. This is amazing. Our guys are kind of fragile at times. The crowd was booing them. The other team was taunting them as they were running off. When you’re getting booed, that’s a good thing. It means you’re a good team that’s not playing well. They don’t feel sorry for you. I told them to enjoy that. The fact that the other team is losing by a point and they’re running off the field excited. We’re just constantly teaching our guys how to be in the moment.”
Sean Chandler, who muffed an earlier punt, returned a fourth-quarter punt 65 yards to the UCF 21 yard line. Jahad Thomas would then score on a 22-yard run. Thomas would later add a 21-yard touchdown run.
Temple will have a short week to prepare for East Carolina. The Pirates defeated Tulsa Saturday 30-17.
“East Carolina is a 3-4 defense. They are a really unique offense. They can run the ball. They play with two quarterbacks, and they can throw it. We’re playing a night game then we’re playing a Thursday game. It crunches on our time. They are good, and they have a lot of unique challenges.”
The game will be played Thursday in Greenville, NC at 7 p.m.
Tyler Matakevich eclipsed the 400 career tackle mark in the first quarter. Temple is now bowl eligible for the second straight season and five out of the last seven.