An afternoon of mistakes contributed to Temple's most frustrating loss of a disappointing season. Playing a Connecticut team that was allowing 43.6 points per game and coming off a 70-31 home loss to Memphis, Temple suffered a 28-24 loss to Connecticut during homecoming Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Temple fell to 3-4, 1-3 in the American Athletic Conference and the Owls must now go 3-2 in their final five games just to become bowl-eligible, no easy feat.
UConn improved to 2-4, 1-3.
The Owls were penalized 12 times for 117 yards, committed two turnovers, and had a bushel full of dropped passes.
"Any time you have that many penalties, it is on me," coach Geoff Collins said. "We will get that corrected."
While they are at it, the Owls need to solve a recurring problem: slow starts. The Owls trailed, 14-7, at intermission, and in their four losses they have been outscored, 75-24, in the first half.
The beginning of the third quarter is also becoming an albatross for the Owls. UConn scored on its first third-quarter possession, becoming the third straight team to score a touchdown against the Owls to begin the second half.
Temple's Logan Marchi completed 33 of 54 passes for 356 yards, one touchdown, and one costly interception returned for a touchdown.
Marchi's receivers didn't help him, making several key drops.
"You can't drop the ball five, six, seven times and expect to win," offensive coordinator Dave Patenaude said.
Despite all the errors, Temple still had one final chance. Trailing by four, Temple took over on its 20 with 55 seconds left. The Owls got a first down at the UConn 44, but then gained only 2 yards on their final three passes.
Temple won the total-yards battle, 473-244, a hollow victory against a UConn team that entered the game 127th out of 129 teams in total yards allowed, an average of 575.6.
After Temple failed on a long onside kick to begin the second half, UConn completed a 63-yard drive when Bryant Shirreffs hit a wide-open Arkeel Newsome out of the backfield for a 6-yard scoring pass, increasing the lead to 21-7.
On the play, Temple defensive end Sharif Finch was ejected after being called for targeting Shirreffs.
Also, the Owls lost left tackle Leon Johnson to an undisclosed injury on the first series of the game.
Temple scored on its first possession of the third quarter when Marchi hit a wide-open Isaiah Wright with a 9-yard touchdown pass. It was a connection between two players who hail from Connecticut.
The big play in the drive was a 37-yard reception by wide-open tight end Kenny Yeboah, who entered the game with 28 receiving yards.and finished with four receptions for 73 yards.
UConn went up 28-14 when Tyler Coyle jumped a route by Brodrick Yancy, intercepted Marchi's pass and returned it 34 yards for a score with 6 minutes, 37 seconds left in the third quarter.
"The ball got tipped and ended up floating more than I would have liked, and with the tip it kind of fell short and the guy made the play," said Marchi, who has thrown seven interceptions in Temple losses and one in the three wins.
Later in the quarter, Temple had a fourth-and-1 from the UConn 12. The Owls lined up Wright as the Wildcat quarterback and he was stopped for no gain.
On the next play, Temple's Chapelle Russell forced a fumble and Artrel Foster recovered on the UConn 21.
Four plays later, Ryquell Armstead, hampered by a toe injury, scored his first touchdown of the season on a 10-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter, cutting UConn's lead to 28-21.
A few minutes later, the Owls had a first-and-goal at the UConn 3 but had to settle for Aaron Boumerhi's 21-yard field goal after two runs by Armstead yielded minus-1 yard and Wright dropped a pass in the end zone.
"I couldn't see it at first and then it came, but it was still a ball I should have caught, and that was on me," Wright said.
The field goal cut UConn's lead to 28-24 with 11:14 left.
Another chance came from the UConn 24, when Temple's Keith Kirkwood dropped a pass on fourth-and-7 with 4:31 left. Even if he had made the catch, it was debatable whether he would have gotten a foot in-bounds.
Two plays later, Shirreffs ran 49 yards on a quarterback draw to the Temple 26. UConn missed a 36-yard field goal with 55 seconds left, giving Temple its ill-fated final chance.
Temple took a 7-0 first quarter lead on David Hood's 1-yard run, but UConn tied the score on Shirreffs' 6-yard scoring pass to Quayvon Skanes on what looked like a pick play, with 10:44 left in the second quarter.
A fumble by Yancy set up UConn's second touchdown. Jordan Swan forced the fumble and Marshe' Terry, a sophomore from Northern Burlington High, returned it 35 yards to the Owls' 9.
Two plays later, Shirreffs hit Hergy Mayala with a back-shoulder, 6-yard scoring pass, giving the Huskies a lead they wouldn't relinquish.