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Temple routs UConn, but injury bug bites as Owls wait for bowl bid

Quarterback Anthony Russo didn't play due to injury and running back Ryquell Armstead left the game in the second quarter with an injury.

Temple quarterback Todd Centeoi celebrates with teammates during the Owls' rout of UCONN on Saturday.
Temple quarterback Todd Centeoi celebrates with teammates during the Owls' rout of UCONN on Saturday.Read moreSTEPHEN DUNN / AP

HARTFORD, Conn. —  The rout was expected for Temple, but in its regular season finale, the news wasn't good on the injury front.

Facing a UConn team that was last in the American Athletic Conference in scoring offense and scoring defense, Temple had no trouble disposing of the Huskies, 57-7 in a late-afternoon matchup at chilly Rentschler Field.

The Owls finished the regular season 8-4 and 7-1 in the AAC and will now await for a bowl bid. While a number of bowls are in consideration, The Independence, Birmingham, and Military bowls are among those in contention, but as one source said, things are still wide-open. Much could depend on the winner of Saturday's AAC title game between Central Florida and Memphis.

The AAC has a direct partnership with the Birmingham and Military bowls, and a secondary partnership with the Independence.

Temple is expected to play a team from a Power Five conference in its bowl game.

As for injuries, Temple played without redshirt sophomore quarterback Anthony Russo, who went 7-2 as a starter in the previous nine games. While Temple didn't disclose the injury, Russo had a cast on his right (throwing) hand while on the sideline, where he wore a headset and was enthusiastic cheering his teammates.

According to a person familiar with the situation, he suffered the injury during the Owls' win over South Florida a week ago. Russo played that entire game.

After the game, coach Geoff Collins preferred not to speculate as to whether Russo will be available for the bowl game.

Graduate student Frank Nutile, who started Temple's first two games before giving way to Russo due to injury, was the starter against UConn. Redshirt freshman Todd Centeio, who scored on a second quarter 3-yard run, also saw extensive action at quarterback.

Star running back Ryquell Armstead suffered an injury following a 31-yard gain to the UConn 1-yard line with 5 minutes and 30 seconds left in the first half and Temple leading, 20-7.

The injury wasn't disclosed, but Armstead, who missed two earlier games with an ankle injury, appeared in noticeable pain.

"He was, he was (in pain)," Collins said. "He is a tough guy and he was even trying to come back in and we wouldn't let him."

With 2:38 left in the first half, offensive tackle James McHale walked off slowly.

The positive news injury-wise for Temple came with the return of center Matt Hennessy, who missed the last two games with an undisclosed injury. Hennessy has been the Owls' top offensive lineman.

As for the game, Temple put things away early with a 40-7 first half.

In the first quarter, Owls linebacker Shaun Bradley was ejected for targeting. He will be eligible to play in the bowl game.

During the first half, Temple scored a touchdown on offense, defense, and on special teams. It was the third game Temple achieved this trifecta.

The game turned out to be a big homecoming for junior receiver Isaiah Wright. A graduate of Kingswood-Oxford High in Hartford, Wright scored Temple's first two touchdowns. The first came on an 18-yard run during the initial possession of the game. After UConn (1-11, 0-8) tied the game on Keyion Dixon's 4-yard touchdown reception, Wright scored on a 99-yard kickoff return.

Wright estimated that a total of 20 family and friends were on hand to see him in his home state.

"It was big, simply for the fact I felt previously against UConn, I did not do what I should, so coming into this game, I wanted to make sure I didn't feel the say way I felt prior," Wright said.

It was his third return for a score this season with the others being punt return touchdowns. Wright now has five career returns for touchdowns, three on punts and two on kickoffs.

The defensive touchdown was scored late in the first half on an 8-yard interception return from Christian Braswell. It was the 13th non-offensive touchdown for Temple this season.