Rebounding from a loss is always tough, especially when it's a blowout loss. Syracuse commit Zach Allen was not only recovering from a loss, but he was doing so against Temple's big rivals, Belton. His team responded by pulling out a 50-44 win.
"It was a crazy game," Allen explained. "It was against our rival, Belton. We had a packed stadium. We pulled off the W, so everything was good. We won 50-44."
Allen was unstoppable in the game, throwing for 273 yards, rushing for 164 yards, and scoring six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing). To top it off, the 2-star quarterback was named homecoming king during a halftime ceremony.
All of that offensive productivity was a result of preparation. Allen says his teammates worked hard to rebound from a tough loss the week before.
"We really had a solid week of practice," he recalled. "We wanted to respond from our loss to Midway last week and show that we are still a top team. Not only in our district but in the state. We came and beat a good Belton team. We scored 50 points against them. Our offensive line blocked well, our receivers all fought hard.
"I played alright in this game. I think I was 12 for 17 with over 270 yards passing and three passing touchdowns. We did a little more designed runs and quarterback reads. I carried the ball 12 times for almost 170 yards rushing and three more touchdowns."
Playing in a rivalry game is always emotional. It is important to get back to playing football, however, and not be too intense on the field. Allen believes their ability to do that helped them win.
"A lot of people try to play down the rivalry and say it's not that big of a deal," he said. "But you can't act like it's just another game. It's about bragging rights. You go in there and have to make sure you execute on everything. Try not to go too crazy. Make sure you make all the right calls and all the right reads. Make sure everyone knows what they're doing. Really just enjoy playing the game of football."
Responding from a loss is something Temple focused on all week. Allen believes it says a lot about the mental makeup of his team.
"It really showed that we can overcome a lot," he described. "Last week we put up 20 points in the first half and then zero in the second half. A lot of people were doubting our offensive abilities. We really wanted to come out and prove them wrong. So we came out and put up 50 points against a defense that had only been giving up 13 points per game.
"It really showed a lot about our team, offensively and defensively. Our defense got a big stop when they needed it. I really feel like our offense and defense are coming together as a whole."
While Allen was not able to watch the game, he saw that the Orange suffered another frustrating loss. He believes they are still close to turning things around.
"No I didn't see the game," Allen stated. "I saw the stats and watched the highlights. It's another frustrating loss for Syracuse. We really wanted to beat them. Obviously they're a very good team at 6-0. It's hard to compete with that. We competed early, but just big plays and turnovers and special teams hurt us again."
The redzone has been a problem area for Syracuse this season. Allen has some ideas on how to fix that.
"You have to get together and have a swagger about yourself," the Temple High product said. "Execution is huge like I was talking about with my team. If you execute, then it'll be hard to be stopped. One thing with the swagger is you feel like you won't be stopped, and that's usually what happens."
Even with the struggles Syracuse has had this season, Allen remains fully committed to the Orange. He is frustrated with the results so far, but believes they are still building towards something special.
"I committed to Syracuse University for their coaching staff, what they do on offense, and the direction they are going in," Allen said. "I'm still extremely pleased with Coach (Doug) Marrone, Coach (Nathaniel) Hackett and what they're doing. Obviously it gives me a chance to be a leader and stick with my commitment. Go in there, get a good recruiting class in there, and turn things around when I'm up there.
"Obviously Ryan is doing a great job on his part in keeping Syracuse winning. He needs to continue to do that for the rest of this year. Then, obviously, it's going to be a competition with who's coming in next year.
"We're going to get in there and turn the program around to where it should be," he continued. "I feel like I'll be able to go in there and compete. I'll really have a chance to be the starting quarterback and lead them into the ACC.
"The struggles don't impact my decision. I'm frustrated because, you know, you talk to all your friends about how good Syracuse is and they don't pull off a win. But I'm still 100% with Syracuse, win or lose."