CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. –Temple showed great fight, but the Owls are past the moral victory stage.
After trailing by 17 points in the third quarter, Temple cut the deficit to three in the fourth quarter and had the ball, but the Owls couldn't complete the deal in a 45-35 loss to Boston College on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
The Owls (2-3) allowed a season-high in points, surpassing the total they gave up in a 36-29 loss to Buffalo.
"All in all, I didn't come here to have a close game, I came to win," said Temple running back Ryquell Armstead, who rushed for 171 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries. "We're competitors and played a helluva' game, but we we have to go back to the drawing board and figure things out."
First, in the "figure things out" department is cleaning up the turnovers. Boston College scored 22 points off the three Temple turnovers. The Owls did score off the one turnover they had when Rob Ritrovato forced a fumble on a kickoff, and Isaiah Graham Mobley ran it 19 yards for a score.
Second, penalties. Temple was flagged 11 times for 95 yards, as compared to Boston College's 10 for 79.
"We beat ourselves with too many penalties, turnovers and things like that. We can't play like that," safety Delvon Randall said.
Quarterback Anthony Russo, making his third straight start, completed 20 of 45 passes for 255 yards and threw two interceptions. But for the second week in a row, there were several dropped passes.
"It's disappointing," Temple coach Geoff Collins said of the dropped passes.
Boston College (4-1) lost standout running back A.J. Dillon on the first series of the second half with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Before departing, Dillon rushed for 161 yards and two scores.
His replacement Ben Glines rushed for 119 yards (5.2 average) and one touchdown.
The Eagles started the game with an up-tempo offensive attack, and it caught the Owls off guard.
"We weren't even thinking they were going to do that," linebacker Shaun Bradley said."When they came out it, was tough, but over the time of the game we got it a little bit, but it was definitely threw us off."
Boston College used a version of the Philly Special to go up 38-21 with 9 minutes, 22 seconds left in the third quarter. Quarterback Anthony Brown pitched the ball to running back Travis Levy, who lateraled it to receiver Jeff Smith. A former quarterback, Smith found an open Brown near the end zone and he walked in to complete the 9-yard scoring pass.
The Owls got to within 38-28 when Armstead scored on a 1-yard run with 6:31 left in the third quarter. The play was set up when Russo found Isaiah Wright on a 30-yard pass play to the 1-yard line on a fourth-and-5.
Russo completed the pass despite serious pressure from defensive end Zach Allen.
Armstead capped a 14-play, 53-yard drive with a 1-yard dash, that cut the Eagles' lead to 38-35 with 9:02 left.
The Owls were forced to punt on their next possession and Boston College got needed breathing room when Glines scored on a 1-yard run, making it 45-35 with 3:11 left.
In the first half, Armstead had a 75-yard run and a 1-yard touchdown, the second gave Temple a 21-13 lead with 6:46 left in the second quarter.
From there, Boston College scored 25 unanswered points.
This was a chippy game with three players ejected for targeting — Boston College safety Lukas Denis along with Temple tight end Chris Myarick and safety Jyquis Thomas.
The Owls, who had 13 sacks in winning their previous two games over Maryland and Tulsa, were held without a sack. Russo was sacked twice, but he faced considerable pressure.
Now the Owls, who host East Carolina University on Saturday, are finished their non-conference schedule, having gone 1-3 and now finish with seven American Athletic Conference games.