Temple played some of its most succinct football this season en route to a statement win over visiting Memphis on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

In its homecoming game, the Owls opened their American Athletic Conference season with a come-from-behind 34-31 win, toppling a tough Tigers team thanks to formidable performances from all three phases of the ball.

In his third start, quarterback D’Wan Mathis had his most impressive outing, completing a school-record tying 35 passes in 49 attempts for 322 yards and three touchdowns, including a 53-yarder to Amad Anderson Jr. with 2 minutes, 35 seconds left in the game. After getting hurt in Temple’s season opener, Saturday’s victory was Mathis’ coming out party as a more than viable quarterback option for Temple (3-2, 1-0 AAC).

After going 2-1 in their three-game homestand, the Owls will hit the road to take on No. 7-ranked Cincinnati on Friday at 7 p.m. The Bearcats will be coming off a shocking 24-13 win over Notre Dame.

Owls overcome another slow start

In its four nonconference games, Temple has trailed by at least a touchdown after one quarter. Opening conference play was more of the same – sort of.

Against Rutgers, the Owls fell behind 14-0 early, Akron was a 14-7 deficit, Boston College was another two-score game, and they trailed Wagner, 7-0, after the first 15 minutes.

Memphis (3-2, 0-1) held a 3-0 lead after the first quarter but punched in a rushing touchdown from junior running back Rodrigues Clark to open the second quarter to extend the lead by 10.

On the ensuing drive, Temple coach Rod Carey opted to go for it on fourth down and inches at the 35-yard line. They failed to convert, and the Tigers scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass on the first play. Memphis took a convincing 17-0 lead early, but were outscored, 34-14, the rest of the way.

Temple has yet to put points on the board in the first quarter this season.

In the second quarter, an acrobatic 1-yard touchdown catch from Jadan Blue, a 15-yard TD reception by Jose Barbon, and a 35-yard field goal from Rory Bell on the final play of the half tied the game at 17.

Barbon’s touchdown was set up by a crucial Keyshawn Paul forced fumble and recovery that gave the Owls strong field position. The turnover by the junior-transfer cornerback turned the tide, giving Temple enough momentum to crawl back from a three-score deficit.

Full running back rotation

Temple has been without at least one of its running backs in each of its nonconference games due to injury.

Redshirt junior Ra’Von Bonner was banged up on opening day against Rutgers and missed both Boston College and Wagner games. Freshman Trey Blair, who moved to the position following spring practice, saw his only action of the season against the Rutgers.

Against Memphis, the Owls had all their running backs, including Bonner, Blair, redshirt freshman Edward Saydee, graduate student Tayvon Ruley and redshirt sophomore Kyle Dobbins.

Carey mentioned earlier in the week he feels Saydee is still their number one back, but nobody in the group has truly separated themselves. On Saturday, Saydee and Ruley shared most of the running duties with a few reps going to Dobbins, who put up three scores last weekend, and Bonner.

Ruley delivered the highlight of the day out of the backfield with a 1-yard rushing touchdown that gave Temple its first lead of the day. He finished with 27 yards on seven carries.

Saydee led the rushing attack with 62 yards on 12 carries. He was followed by Ruley then Bonner’s four touches for 5 yards.

Mathis, who rushed for 53 yards, even got in the mix. His ability to extend plays with his legs was on full display, highlighted by a 39-yard run.

Containing Calvin Austin III

Memphis’ Calvin Austin III entered Saturday as the top receiver in the conference with 27 catches, 533 yards, and 7 touchdowns.

The redshirt senior’s 104 yards on eight catches on Saturday were his fewest since Memphis’ win over Nicholls State in the season opener. Temple is also the first team to keep him out of the end zone this season.

Paul and redshirt junior cornerback Cameron Ruiz took turns defending Austin depending on the side of the field he lined up on.

Temple’s ability to prevent Austin from breaking out for big plays or significant yards after a catch helped keep the game competitive.