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Ryquell Armstead’s record night helps Temple hold off Houston, 59-49

The running back ran for six scores and Temple rebounded from its loss to UCF last week.

Temple Ryquell Armstead runs with the football against Tulsa on Thursday, September 20, 2018 in Philadelphia.
Temple Ryquell Armstead runs with the football against Tulsa on Thursday, September 20, 2018 in Philadelphia.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

HOUSTON – Temple finally tamed the Cougars.

Ryquell Armstead supplied a conference-record six rushing scores, Ventell Bryant snapped a school receiving record, and the Owls won, 59-49, Saturday at TDECU Stadium for their first win over Houston.

Temple, which was coming off its first conference loss, improved to 6-4 overall, 5-1 in the American Athletic Conference.

It was 0-6 against Houston going in – in a series that dates to 1987.

The Cougars (7-3, 4-2) suffered their second straight setback after a 45-31 loss to SMU last week.

Bryant broke the school record for career receiving yards with a 10-yard catch in the first quarter, giving him 2,277 yards. Willie Marshall set the previous mark of 2,272 yards from 1983 to 1986.

Bryant also recorded at least one catch for the 45th consecutive game, finishing with seven receptions for 61 yards.

"It's definitely meaningful [beating Houston]," Bryant said. "Coming here, we knew it was going to be a hostile environment, and a great game. Their offense is high-powered, so we knew we had to score a lot of touchdowns to win this game and that's what we did."

The record-breaking grab was part of a 12-play, 70-yard drive capped by fullback Rob Ritrovato's 8-yard TD run for a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter. The Owls scored on their first three possessions.

Armstead crossed the 100-yard rushing mark for the seventh time this year on a 33-yard scoring run to open the third quarter, giving the Owls a commanding 35-14 advantage only 45 seconds into the half.

The senior's fifth TD gave the Owls a 49-28 lead midway through third quarter.

His sixth seemed to seal it with 10:22 left in the game, but after a late rally by Houston, the Owls couldn't relax until Will Mobley's 41-yard field goal went through the uprights with 1:41 remaining.

Armstead finished with 210 yards on 30 rushes.

"I'm hot right now," Armstead said. "Since the first game, every other game I've ran for 100 yards, and my confidence is at an all-time high."

The Owls couldn't have ordered a better opening for the first trip to Houston since the inaugural ACC championship game in 2015.

After a three-and-out by the Cougars on the first series, Ty Mason blocked Dane Roy's punt, and Ifeanyi Maijeh recovered at the Houston 8, setting up Armstead's 5-yard touchdown run two plays later.

Then Chapelle Russell recovered a fumble by QB D'Eriq King on the Cougars' next series, setting up another score.

The ensuing 12-play, 66-yard march by the Owls included freshman Todd Centeio finding Freddie Johnson for 8 yards and a first down on a fake punt, and ended with Armstead's second rushing score.

As a result, Temple led 14-0 less than 7 minutes into the game.

It rolled up 539 yards and 28 first downs against the Cougars defense, which again was without All-American DT Ed Oliver, who was a late scratch.

Temple committed three red-zone pass interferences, aiding two of Houston's TD drives. The Cougars generated 521 yards and pulled within 56-49 with 6:18 to go on a 12-yard catch by Bryson Smith.

King tied a career high with five touchdown passes for Houston.

Delvon Randall's interception with 40 seconds left capped Temple's win, and give the Owls 10 picks on the season.