WEST POINT, N.Y. - Temple appeared befuddled for much of Saturday afternoon. Army quarterback Trent Steelman was running the spread/triple offense with aplomb, and the Black Knights were burning the Owls through the air and on the ground.
In the third quarter, Temple was facing a 15-point deficit. That was before the Owls put on an offensive display of their own, scoring four consecutive touchdowns en route to a 42-35 win at scenic Michie Stadium.
The nonleague victory in front of a homecoming crowd of 33,065 was their most impressive performance of the season.
Coach Al Golden went a step further in describing the triumph.
"Make no mistake; that's the biggest win since I've been here," said Golden, who is in his fifth season at Temple. "In that kind of environment, to stay together. To be down 15, and then reel off 28 straight? That's a big win, and I give a lot of credit to our coaches."
It was the first road victory for the Owls (4-1) after they opened with three wins at home and a loss at Penn State, where they went down, 22-13, after entering the fourth quarter with a chance to win. In that game, the Owls' leading rusher and touchdown-maker, sophomore running back Bernard Pierce, suffered a sprained ankle during the second half and did not return.
Pierce did not make the trip Saturday. In his place, 5-foot-5, 170-pound Matt Brown gained 108 yards and scored twice in the first quarter. By the end of the game, the sophomore from Baltimore had collected a career-high 226 yards to go with a personal-best four touchdowns.
Brown's 11-yard TD run snapped a 28-28 tie with 6 minutes, 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter. And his 20-yard run at 4:20 provided insurance points.
"I just played as hard as I could," said Brown, who gave credit to his offensive linemen. "It was another win for the books. I think we played well. But we don't want to be a one-hit wonder."
Steelman, who ran for four touchdowns and passed for another to account for all of Army's points, scored on a 7-yard run with 9:08 left in the second quarter to put the Black Knights up, 14-13. His 31-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Austin Barr with 2:07 remaining gave Army a 21-13 halftime advantage.
That lead was 28-13 after a 3-yard run by Steelman about midway through the third quarter. Temple knotted the score on a pair of touchdown receptions by wide receiver Michael Campbell, who finished with five catches for 124 yards.
After the first of those, a two-point conversion pass from quarterback Chester Stewart to tight end Vaughn Charlton left Temple within seven points.
"The coaches put me in position to make plays, and I just went out there and did what I was supposed to do," Campbell said.
Last year, when Army met Temple at Lincoln Financial Field, the Owls took a 27-13 win after the teams entered the fourth quarter tied, 13-13.
On Saturday, the Black Knights were coming off a 35-21 victory at Duke keyed by a defensive unit that forced five turnovers. Against the Owls, Army wasted no time picking up a take-away.
On the opening kickoff, Temple's James Nixon was being brought to the ground by a bevy of Army defenders when the ball popped out of the scrum and was recovered by the Black Knights' Ty Schrader at the Owls' 27-yard line. It was the third time this season that Army had forced a turnover on a kickoff, and this one led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Steelman.
Brown's 3-yard touchdown at the 9:59 mark left Temple with a 7-6 deficit after the Owls' extra-point attempt was sabotaged by a high snap that resulted in holder Charlton's falling on the ball to end the play.
Notes. A 92-yard kick return for a touchdown in the third period by Temple's Nixon was negated by a holding penalty. . . . The only field-goal attempt by Army kicker Alex Carlton, a native of Wilmington, went wide left from 50 yards in the first quarter.