In a battle of football teams which have been proficient at forcing turnovers, Houston won the battle and the war, forcing three Temple interceptions and recovering a fumble on the way to a 31-10 victory on Friday night.
The Cougars frustrated Temple quarterback P.J. Walker, who threw all three picks - including a pick-six that out the Owls in a 10-0 first-quarter hole - and also fumbled in the key play of the game.
Temple appeared ready to tie the game after Jahad Thomas ran 74 yards down to the 2-yard line on a screen pass in the third quarter. Walker tried to score on a draw on the ensuing play, but he was stripped just short of the goal line as he stretched to crack the plane and Houston recovered for a touchback.
Walker finished 12-of-29 for 259 yards and a touchdown – a 39-yard pass to Hawaii transfer Keith Kirkwood with 34 seconds left in the first half that pulled the Owls within a touchdown at 17-10. He also gained 49 yards on eight carries.
Thomas continued to make his case to be the Owls’ feature back with 150 receiving yards on three catches and another 49 on seven carries.
While the Owls held on defense after Walker’s fumble, they gained one first down before being forced to punt and punter Alex Starzyk was tackled at the 46-yard line after another miscue.
The Cougars then needed just five plays to cover 54 yards, taking a 24-10 lead on Deontay Greenberry’s 7-yard TD reception from Greg Ward Jr.
Walker was intercepted on the Owls’ next play and Ward turned it into another seven points with a 30-yard scoring strike to Ryan Jackson that set the final score.
The loss ended Temple’s three-game winning streak and dropped it to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the American Athletic Conference. The Cougars are 4-3, 2-1.
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