HARTFORD, Conn. — Temple redshirt sophomore Matt Hennessy has often been described by coach Geoff Collins as one of the top centers in the country.
The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Hennessy was having a dominant season until suffering an undisclosed injury in the third quarter of the Owls' loss at Central Florida on Nov. 1.
He missed the next two games, but returned to the starting lineup in Saturday's 57-7 win over Connecticut in an American Athletic Conference game at Rentschler Field. It was Temple's largest margin of victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision program.
Hennessy credited Temple redshirt senior offensive lineman Jaelin Robinson for the inspiration. Robinson played at Connecticut's Wilbur Cross High.
"Early in the week, I had been talking to Jaelin Robinson and it was his last regular season game in his home state and I promised him I was going to play," Hennessy said. "At that point, whether I was going to go was up in the air, but when I made that determination, I started feeling better as the game got closer and today I woke up ready to go."
Hennessy said he still isn't 100 percent, but feels that the accompanying time off will help. The Owls won't return to the practice field until Saturday.
With starting quarterback Anthony Russo missing the game while wearing a cast on his right hand, Frank Nutile returned to the starting lineup.
Nutile started the first two games, but was injured in the Owls' 36-29 loss to Buffalo on Sept. 8. Since then, his only appearance was being on the field for the opening play in a 45-35 loss at Boston College on Sept. 29.
Against UConn, Nutile completed 9-of-12 passes for 184 yards and an interception.
"To be out there with the guys and competing was definitely a lot of fun and something you miss," Nutile said. "It was cool."
Redshrit freshman Todd Centeio also played extensively at quarterback and rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown on six carries, and completed all three passes for 39 yards and a score.
Levine pushing himself
After suffering and injury on opening day and not returning until the sixth game, redshirt junior defensive end Dana Levine is rounding into form.
Against UConn, he had his best game, with nine tackles, including 2.5 for loss and half a sack.
"My goal was to lead the team in tackles (against UConn)," said Levine, who was second to safety Delvon Randall, who had 11.
Leading up to the game, Levine felt that despite missing so much time, his tackle total wasn't to his liking.
"I haven't played a lot of games this season," Levine said. "I had 20 tackles and looked before the game at that stat and had to do better this game."