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Temple looking for a different road outcome against East Carolina

The Owls are coming off their second Power Five win of the season. They didn't react well to their first.

Jager Gardner and the Temple Owls will hit the road for the second time this season. They're hoping for a better result than last time.
Jager Gardner and the Temple Owls will hit the road for the second time this season. They're hoping for a better result than last time.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

The first time this year that Temple had a road football game, the Owls were 14-point favorites and coming off a huge win over a Power Five school. The ensuing result wasn’t favorable.

Now, preparing for its second road game, 8 p.m. Thursday at East Carolina, Temple finds itself in an almost identical situation: nearly a two-touchdown favorite after coming off a win over a Power Five school.

After practice Tuesday, the Temple players and coach Rod Carey said they learned a lot from the first experience and hope not to let it happen again.

Looking back, Temple was coming off a 20-17 win over then-No. 21 Maryland when the Owls prepared to visit a Buffalo team that was coming off a 35-17 loss at Liberty.

Temple recorded the game’s first touchdown and things were going according to plan until Buffalo spoiled everything by scoring the next 31 points. Final score: Buffalo 38, Temple 22.

On Saturday, Temple had a dominant defensive performance in a 24-2 win over its former coach, Geoff Collins, and Georgia Tech.

Now the Owls have to hit the road against vastly improved ECU (3-2). Under first-year coach Mike Houston, the Pirates have already matched last year’s win total when they went 3-9. Among the losses last year was a 49-6 pasting at Temple.

But the Owls aren’t thinking about last year’s win over ECU or last week’s victory over Georgia Tech. Those lessons came from that humbling defeat at Buffalo, which is now 2-3 after last week’s 34-20 loss at Miami of Ohio.

Before the Buffalo game, the Owls insisted they had put their big win over Maryland behind them. Obviously, that wasn’t true.

“Last time we got too high on ourselves from the win over Maryland,” linebacker Chapelle Russell said. “We want to make sure we stay humble and continue to keep worrying about us.”

The Owls realized that after such a big win, they had to do more than just show up the following week.

“We have to come in mentally prepared,” said junior defensive end Quincy Roche, who recently was awarded a single-digit number (9), an honor given for a player’s toughness and dedication to the program. “When you come to a hostile environment, we have to be mentally prepared for the game."

As for the environment, it should be charged up. ECU is having a “blackout,” with the fans and the team wearing black. As an added attraction, the game will be televised by ESPN.

The atmosphere should be much more frenetic than the Buffalo game, where the attendance was 17,621.

ECU, traditionally one of the top teams in attendance in the American Athletic Conference, has averaged 36,106 in its first two home games, which is second in the league.

Temple quarterback Anthony Russo said there is an art to playing on the road, and the Owls didn’t master it during the trip to Buffalo.

“We were a little too loose that game and I don’t think we were locked in," he said.

Carey said he will approach this road trip differently.

“I didn’t like the way I did the schedule, to be honest with you, and I changed the scheduling stuff," Carey said.

He also didn’t like how the Owls didn’t let go of the Maryland win the following week.

“We didn’t handle the success very well the first time, obviously,” Carey said. “History is the best teacher of them all, and we have that to fall back on.”

Walls honored again

A day after being named the AAC defensive player of the week, Temple safety Benny Walls earned the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week honor for his role in the win over Georgia Tech. Walls returned a fumble 74 yards for a touchdown, had an interception that he returned 65 yards to the Georgia Tech 35-yard line, and added six tackles.