Going Out In Style

One by one, Temple football players talked after last Saturday's demoralizing 28-21 loss to Connecticut about needing to learn how to finish. For the sixth time this season, the Owls had let a second-half lead slip away. In the final game of the season Saturday, the lesson was apparently learned as the Owls pulled away from Memphis to win 41-21 and claim their first victory in the AAC.

One by one, Temple football players talked after last Saturday's demoralizing 28-21 loss to Connecticut about needing to learn how to finish.

For the sixth time this season, the Owls had let a second-half lead slip away.

In the final game of the season Saturday, the lesson was apparently learned as the Owls pulled away from Memphis to win 41-21 and claim their first victory in the American Athletic Conference.

Temple finished Matt Rhule's first season as head coach with a 2-10 overall record and 1-7 mark in the American. If the Owls had played the second half of most games this year like they did Saturday, they could be preparing for a bowl game instead of the offseason.

Memphis, which still has a game to play, is 3-8, 1-6.

"First off, congratulations to Temple on the victory," said Memphis coach Justin Fuente. "They showed up and beat us in every facet of the game. Matt and his staff did a great job of keeping those kids committed and getting them ready to play hard. And that's how they won the game. They had a crushing defeat last week. They showed up here ready to play a football game."

P.J. Walker, the Owls' talented true freshman quarterback, capped his half-season as a starter with four more touchdown passes, giving him an Owls' freshman record 20 on the season. Three of those scores went to sophomore Robby Anderson, who caught a touchdown pass for the fifth straight game.

Temple got the job done on defense and special teams as well. Freshman Sharif Finch's blocked punt, which was recovered for a touchdown, put the Owls ahead 31-14 n the second half.

In the fourth quarter, Temple put the game away, making a fourth-and-inches stop on Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch with the Tigers trailing by 13 and driving. The Owls followed it up with Walker hitting Anderson for their third touchdown connection of the day, pushing the lead to 20.

Temple lost two games this year – Fordham and Rutgers – when they needed just a single fourth-down stop to take over and kneel out a victory and didn't get it done either time.

"I thought today was a tremendous defensive effort, 230 yards allowed," said Rhule. "The fourth-and-1 stop in the fourth quarter to me was what we needed all year. I was really happy for our guys to make that stop and move down the field and score a touchdown. That's what we've been trying to do all year and today we did it."

Walker was 20-of-32 for 328 yards with the four touchowns and an interception. Anderson finished with seven catches for 96 yards and three scores – his second, an 11-yarder with 20 seconds left in the first half sent the Owls into the break up 17-7 - while senior tight end Chris Coyer had his best receiving game with three catches for 129 yards and a score.

The Owls even kicked two field goals as Nick Visco converted from 22 and 19 yards, just the Owls' second and third makes of the year.

It was a game that was big for the Owls to feel good about how they finished the season and could serve as a springboard to the future. After the game, Rhule tweeted out congratulations to the players and said 2014 starts Monday at 6 a.m.

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