A week after suffering a loss in which it showed little energy or fight, Temple had plenty of both during a steamy day at Lincoln Financial Field. The Owls also received an unlikely boost from a midweek ping-pong tournament to defeat Stony Brook, 38-0, on Saturday before 22,296 in the sauna that was the Linc, where the game-time temperature was 93 degrees.
Yes, the win was over a Football Championship Subdivision team, but Temple took nothing for granted a week after opening with a 28-13 upset loss to visiting Army.
Phillip Walker completed 11 of 23 passes for 124 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception, while the Owls defense didn't allow Stony Brook to breath, limiting the Seawolves to 133 yards of total offense.
It was the Owls' first shutout since a 59-0 win over visiting Delaware State on Sept. 20, 2014.
"We went out and played with passion and nobody was flat," Walker said.
One thing that aided team camaraderie was a mid-week ping-pong tournament among coaches and players. Rhule didn't win but felt he should have advanced farther than he did.
"I am extremely bitter about that now," said the coach, feigning anger.
On a serious note, Rhule said the activity helped bring the team together, while helping to improve hand-eye coordination.
"I was in the facility on Wednesday night and there were two ping-pong tables going, probably 60 kids in there hanging out together, and that to me is what we are trying to build," Rhule said.
Stony Brook was coming off a 13-9 season-opening win over a North Dakota squad that was ranked No. 19 in the FCS.
Now Temple (1-1) at least has some momentum as it heads into its game at Penn State on Saturday.
"My first win in my senior year, all that hard work we put in camp, it feels good," said linebacker Avery Williams.
This was a day for many of the young players to see extensive time. In fact Temple's two leading tacklers were freshmen linebacker William Kwenkeu and safety Benny Walls of St. Joseph's Prep, who each had five tackles. Classmate Isaiah Wright rushed for 42 yards on seven carries.
"I thought you saw a team that played with a lot of energy and juice and did enough to win the football game, and to get a shutout on defense is always special," Rhule said.
The fourth-year coach said the MVP was punter Alex Starzyk, who averaged 47.5 yards on four punts and had two drop inside the 5-yard line.
Temple took a 7-0 lead, scoring on its second drive on a 3-yard run by Ryquell Armstead. It came two plays after a 36-yard gain on a reverse by Cortrelle Simpson.
The Owls led 28-0 by halftime on a 5-yard touchdown reception by Keith Kirkwood, a 4-yard run by Jager Gardner, and a 15-yard scoring pass to Brodrick Yancy, the first touchdown for the redshirt sophomore.
Kirkwood accomplished his first-ever two-touchdown game with a 26-yard score in the third quarter.
Not all was smooth. Walker was sacked twice, making it six times in two games.
"We're not protecting the quarterback as well as we should, and that is the one area that better get fixed really quickly," Rhule said.
Now it's on to Penn State.
Running Jahad Thomas missed his second straight game with a dislocated thumb. Rhule said he hoped Thomas will be available for Penn State, but he added that receiver Ventell Bryant, who was hurt Tuesday in practice, is out for a while. Redshirt freshman cornerback Kareem Ali suffered an arm injury against Stony Brook and Rhule doubts he will be back soon.