Fourth Quarter Rally Pushes Temple Past Army

Final Statistics: Temple 27, Army 13

Postgame Notes

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. –   Temple scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to break open a 13-13 tie and score a 27-13 victory over Army on a cold, wet and windy Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field. The loss dropped the Black Knights to 3-4 on the season, while the Owls earned their first non-conference win of the year to improve to 4-2.

The Black Knights rallied from a 13-0 second-quarter deficit to tie the game, but could not put any more points on the board.

Penalties plagued Army all game as the Black Knights racked up 14 flags for 100 yards, including a pass interference penalty that nullified an interception and led to Temple’s go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. It was only the seventh time since 1989 that Army had at least 10 penalties in a game.

The game turned on an Army 4th-and-less-than-1 from its own 24-yard line midway through the final stanza. The Black Knights elected to go for it, but freshman QB Trent Steelman was stopped short on a quarterback sneak.

The Army defense appeared take the ball right back on the next play when Steve Erzinger pressured Temple QB Vaughn Charlton and deflected the ball into the waiting arms of junior FS Donovan Travis. Travis returned the ball seven yards to the Army 27-yard line with 9:09 left in the fourth quarter. There was a pass interference penalty on the play that was originally nullified with the tipped-ball ruling, but Temple challenged that determination. The replay officials reversed the call on the field that the ball was deflected, giving the Owls a first down at the Army 12-yard line after the interference penalty was enforced.

On 3rd-and-4 from the 6-yard line, Charlton hit Steve Maneri on a lob pass in the end zone to give the Owls back the lead for good. Temple tacked on another score following a Steelman fumble while being sacked at Army’s 1-yard line.

Army outgained Temple, 256-195, including a 181-80 advantage on the ground, but the field position in the fourth quarter was too much to overcome.

Steelman was Army’s leading rusher for the third straight game with 67 yards on 19 carries. Junior SB Patrick Mealy gained 35 yards on 10 carries, while rookie Malcolm Brown, who made his second straight start, matched Mealy’s yardage total on six carries.

Steelman completed all five of his throws for 56 yards and a touchdown. Senior WR Alejandro Villanueva caught four passes for 62 yards and a score, his team-leading fourth of the season.

Temple’s Bernard Pierce ran 11 times for 65 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with an injury with 1:36 left in the first half. Kee-Ayre Griffin gained 41 yards and scored a touchdown on 12 carries. Charlton completed 8-of-14 passes for 115 yards and two scores.

The Army defense sacked Temple’s quarterbacks five times, including four by junior DE Josh McNary. McNary’s four sacks were a single-game Academy record, and he also reached the top spot on Army’s season (9.5) and career (15.0) quarterback sacks ledger. All four of McNary’s tackles were quarterback takedowns.

Travis and junior LB Stephen Anderson led the team with six tackles each. Senior DT Victor Ugenyi and sophomore LB Steve Erzinger added five stops, and senior CB Mario Hill registered an interception.

Jaiquawn Jarrett led the Owls’ defense with nine tackles. 

Temple needed little time to take the lead. The Owls took the opening possession and went 75 yards on seven plays, taking a 7-0 lead on one-yard run by Pierce. The biggest play of the drive was a 23-yard run by Pierce on the first play from scrimmage. Army gave the Owls 22 yards on four penalties on the march.

Army went three and out on its opening possession, and the Owls took over at their own 24-yard line following a Jonathan Bulls’ punt. Temple moved the ball near midfield, but Charlton was intercepted by senior CB Mario Hill to give the Black Knights the ball at their own 29-yard line.

The Black Knights picked up their initial first down of the game when head coach Rich Ellerson decided to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the Army 38-yard line. Mealy gained four yards on the play to move the chains, which set up a 30-yard pass from Steelman to Villanueva into Temple territory. Two false starts penalties sandwiched around an eight-yard by Steelman made it 2nd-and-12 from the Temple 29-yard line. Army was able to gain four more yards to set up a 42-yard field goal attempt by Alex Carlton. His kick hit the right upright to give the Owls the ball at their own 25-yard line with 28 seconds left in the first quarter.

Temple took advantage of the Army miscue to score its second touchdown. Charlton found Harper for a 37-yard scoring strike with 13:17 left in the second quarter to cap the five-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The extra point hit the right upright to keep the Owls lead at 13-0.

Following Temple’s first punt of the game, the Black Knights took over on their own 46-yard line. The offense showed its first signs of life, marching 48 yards, all via the rush, to the Temple six-yard line. Carlton put the Black Knights on the board with a 24-yard field goal, cutting the Army deficit to 13-3 with 2:11 left in the half. Brown carried three times for 20 yards on the drive.

Temple appeared to be on the march again after a conversion on 3rd-and-15, but McNary’s second sack put the Owls in a long-distance situation. Temple punted with less than a minute to go. Army took over on its own 26-yard line, and was able to move the ball into Temple territory, but the clock expired to send the teams into the locker room with the Owls holding a 10-point advantage.

The Owls outgained the Black Knights, 176-153, in the first 30 minutes, but Army held a 104-79 rushing advantage. Brown paced the Black Knights with five carries for 35 yards.

Army struggled with penalties in the first half, particularly in the first quarter. The Black Knights committed eight miscues for 47 yards in the first 15 minutes and were flagged nine times for 57 yards before halftime.

The Black Knights received the second-half kickoff and went 61 yards on 13 plays, chewing up seven minutes and 10 seconds off the third-quarter clock. Carlton’s second field goal of the day, a 23-yarder, cut the Army deficit to 13-6 with 7:50 left in the third stanza. Bowden had to come on in relief for Steelman who left the game after taking a hit on a quarterback keeper.

McNary recorded two sacks on the Owls’ next drive to put Temple back to its own one-yard line. Following the punt, Army took over at the Temple 40-yard line with 5:25 left in the third quarter. Steelman re-entered the game, scampering 16 yards on the first play to put the Black Knights inside the 25-yard line. A 12-yard run by Mealy with a six-yard personal foul tacked on moved the ball to the Owls’ six-yard line, and two plays later Steelman hit Villanueva on a four-yard fade route in the corner of the end zone. Carlton’s extra point was good, tying the game with 4:06 left in the third quarter. It was the Black Knights’ first third-quarter touchdown of the season.

The two teams exchanged punts, and Army appeared to have the Owls stopped again, but another penalty, this one a personal foul after a third-down incompletion, gave the Owls a first down in Army territory. On second down prior to the penalty, Army dodged a bullet when a wide-open James Nixon dropped what would have been a sure Temple touchdown following a play-action fake. The defense stepped up, recording its fifth sack of the game to put the Owls in another long-yardage situation. Josh Jones fielded the punt at the 10-yard line and was able to return it five yards to set the Black Knights up with 11:33 left in the fourth quarter.

Army gained nine yards on its first three plays, setting up the Owls’ crucial stop on fourth down. The spot on Steelman’s sneak was reviewed, but the ruling on the field was upheld. After the reversed tipped-ball interception, Temple took a 20-13 lead on the pass from Charlton to Maneri.

Hunter fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but was able to recover. However, the bobble cost him time and he was brought down at the Army 7-yard line. The Black Knights thought they had a first down on a completion from Steelman to Hunter, but an illegal block penalty pushed the ball back inside the 10-yard line. On the next play, Steelman was sacked and fumbled. The Owls recovered on Army’s 1-yard line with 5:29 left to go. Griffin plunged over the goal line on the next play, and the PAT was good to give the Owls their largest lead at 27-13 with 5:26 left.

Senior QB Carson Williams entered for the Black Knights, but a sack and two incompletions forced a punt.

Temple was able to run out the clock and seal the victory.

Army has now lost six straight games at Lincoln Financial Field, the first five to Navy.

The Black Knights return home to face Rutgers on Friday, Oct. 23. The game will be televised live at ESPN2 at 8 p.m. The Army Athletic Association will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1984 Cherry Bowl championship squad. The first 5,000 fans will receive an 8x10 print featuring Army’s first bowl team. For ticket information, call the Army Athletics Ticket Office at 1-877-TIX-ARMY or click here.

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