Temple scored the game’s first 16 points and eventually held off a late comeback bid by No. 23 Memphis in Saturday’s 30-28 American Athletic Conference win over the Tigers at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Owls improved to 5-1, 2-0 in the AAC while Memphis fell to 5-1, 1-1. Here are three quick takeaways from the win.
Monster game from Harrison Hand
Temple cornerback Harrison Hand has been playing at a high level this season but he took things up a notch. Hand had a first quarter interception that led to an Owls field goal
In the third quarter, the Tigers had a 4th-and-1 from their 49 and Hand stuffed dangerous Kenneth Gainwell for no gain. Early in the fourth quarter he put a huge hit on quarterback Brady White, forcing a fumble that was recovered by safety Amir Tyler. That led to a Temple touchdown.
Hand finished with nine tackles. Fittingly, he made the last tackle of the game.
Trouble defending the tight end
Memphis has so many dangerous receivers, including Gainwell out of the backfield, that it is difficult to defend everybody. Yet one player who made several big plays was 6-foot-4, 240-pound redshirt senior tight end Joe Magnifico.
He was especially dangerous over the middle. Magnifico had a 36-yard reception that helped set up the first Memphis touchdown. He added a 27-yard catch to the Temple 3-yard line that set up another score that cut the Owls lead to 30-28.
Late in the game, Memphis had a 4th-and-9 from the Owls 43. Magnifico was ruled to have made a diving reception on an underthrown ball for 13 yards. The play, however was overturned.
The powerful Magnifico was effective gaining yards after the catch, while also dragging defenders along with him.
By forcing Temple to pay more attention to the middle of the field, Memphis was able to clean up on patterns.
Entering the game, Magnifico had just six receptions for 180 yards and no scores. Against Temple he had six receptions for 87 yards.
Not cashing in enough early
In the first half Temple dominated but led just 23-14 over Memphis. The Owls led in time of possession, 20:04 to 9:56.
The defense caused three turnovers, while Temple committed one.
Yet Temple scored just three field goals from the three turnovers even though the Owls got the ball on their own 47-yard line, the Memphis 12 and their own 19. The first two obviously gave Temple excellent field position.
Temple finally scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter off a turnover, the fumble that was forced by Hand and recovered by Amir Tyler.
Temple also had chances to put the game away in the fourth quarter. One came when Anthony Russo overthrew a wide open Isaiah Wright near the end zone.
Still, Temple was able to survive but it could have been easier if the Owls cashed in on chances.