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It's hard to keep Ryquell Armstead out of the Temple lineup

The Millville product scored his first touchdown of the season and rushed for 31 yards on nine carries.

Ryquell Armstead carries the ball for a first down during a Temple Owls loss to the Houston Cougars 20-13 at the Linc Saturday September 30, 2017.
Ryquell Armstead carries the ball for a first down during a Temple Owls loss to the Houston Cougars 20-13 at the Linc Saturday September 30, 2017.Read moreDAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer

Ryquell Armstead didn't practice at all last week and Temple coach Geoff Collins said he didn't expect the junior running back  to play in the  28-24 loss to Connecticut on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.

Armstead, who wore a boot on his left foot afterward, ended up seeing considerable action. He rushed for 31 yards and a 10-yard touchdown on nine carries.  The product of Millville High said he has been battling a toe injury.

"It loosened up in the second half and I was able to run the ball well," he said. "I am going to battle every week."

Armstead has not been 100 percent since suffering an undisclosed injury in the season-opening 49-16 loss at Notre Dame.

"It is frustrating because you never want to get hurt," he said. "But I get treatment and came out here to battle."

Armstead estimated that he is 90 percent, although that might be  high.

Last year he led the Owls with 14 rushing touchdowns. His touchdown against UConn was his first of the season.

"He is a competitor and fighting us not to take him out throughout the game, which is a credit to him and how tough he is and how much he cares about this team and his teammates," Collins said.

Temple needs depth at running back. Jager Gardner, who was the top backup, is expected to be out for the season after suffering an undisclosed injury in a 43-7 loss at South Florida on Sept. 21.

David Hood, an Absegami graduate, has been the starter the last two weeks. Hood rushed for 29 yards and a score on six carries and caught eight passes for 91 yards.

Temple is so depleted that starting middle linebacker Shaun Bradley reverted to his old Rancocas Valley High days and got his first two career carries against UConn, rushing for 7 yards.

"It was all right, but I am not too hyped about it since we didn't win," Bradley  said about playing running back.

Key loss

There was no word on the injury that  left tackle Leon Johnson suffered on the first series of the game. The redshirt senior  didn't return.

Johnson was initially replaced by  Jaelin Robinson, but another redshirt junior, James McHale, played there most of the game.

Collins said that Johnson, who has made 28 career starts, was to get an X-ray after the game.

The Owls were without starting left guard Jovahn Fair for the fourth straight game because of  injury. Redshirt freshman Vincent Picozzi of Lansdale Catholic made his second straight start.