MIAMI-The Hurricanes were able to overcome an early deficit and a plethora of penalties to blow out Temple 52-14.
The ‘Canes scored at will through the air and on the ground, and their defense held the Owls, the nation’s leading passing attack, to 21 yards passing.
The Hurricanes’ running backs had their best efforts of the season, with Jarrett Payton rushing for a career-high 115 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. Freshman Tyrone Moss contributed 135 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown, with most of his touches coming in garbage time. Senior Jason Geathers ran for a score and hauled in a touchdown catch in the third quarter.
Quarterback Brock Berlin completed 16 of 26 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns in about two-and-a-half quarters of work. Derrick Crudup came in for the rest of the game and completed six of seven passes for 72 yards. The quarterbacks connected with nine different receivers.
Temple was led by Jamil Porter, who gained 84 yards on only six carries, including a 69-yard touchdown run that made the game 24-14 in the second quarter, the closest the Owls ever got to the Hurricanes.
The ‘Canes looked half-asleep on Temple’s first possession of the game, committing offside penalties on consecutive plays. Antrel Rolle fumbled Mike McLaughlin’s punt, giving the Owls a second chance on their opening drive. Porter then ran up the middle for a two-yard touchdown, giving the Owls a 7-0 lead before the Hurricanes got the ball on offense.
“We had a very auspicious start defensively,” Head Coach Larry Coker said. “We had two penalties in a row to allow them to have first downs….but we did a lot of good things today.”
The ‘Canes responded quickly, with Payton scoring on an eight-yard run to tie the game. The drive featured a 14-yard catch by Kellen Winslow and a 20-yard reception by Ryan Moore. After forcing the Owls to punt, Payton rumbled for a 14-yard touchdown to give the Hurricanes a 14-7 lead with 6:21 left in the first quarter.
The offenses stalled for the remainder of the opening quarter, but Jon Peattie extended the ‘Canes’ lead to 10 with a 21-yard field goal at the beginning of the second quarter. Another three-and-out for Temple led to another touchdown for the Hurricanes, with Berlin finding Geathers in the end zone for a 15-yard score.
It didn’t take long for the Owls to get themselves back into the game, as Porter broke loose for a 69-yard touchdown run on the first play of their next drive, cutting the ‘Canes’ lead to 10. Neither team would score before the half ended.
The Hurricanes stalled on their first drive of the second half, and it appeared that Temple would have a chance to make it a one possession game early in the third quarter. However, the ‘Canes decided to roll the dice with a fake punt and the gamble worked, with linebacker D.J. Williams taking a direct snap 61 yards for a touchdown, giving UM a 31-14 lead.
Coker credited the fake punt for breaking the game open.
“The second half was an impressive half for us,” Coker said. “The fake punt really ignited us, gave us some energy and momentum. It’s [the fake punt]one of those things where it’s great if it works and it’s not when it doesn’t. We really needed something to get us going.”
The Hurricane defense tightened up after the Williams touchdown, not allowing the Owls to mount a single drive in the second half. Berlin found backup tight end Kevin Everett for a three-yard touchdown to make the score 38-14, and on came Crudup.
Berlin was pleased to see Crudup get some prolonged action against Temple.
“I thought Derrick played really well, and I was happy for him to get in there and be able to play,” Berlin said. “He made some great throws and he played great.”
Despite concerns about the ‘Canes’ ability to play their best against lesser opponents, Coker didn’t appear to have any doubts that his team would come out to play.
“I think our attitude was good,” Coker said. “We had a good week of practice and I had no doubts about that.”
Coker was impressed with how the Hurricanes performed only a week after the Florida State victory.
“It was a good win for us, especially coming off an emotional win against Florida State where we really spent a lot of energy,” Coker said. “Those games can sometimes linger throughout the next week.”
-Eric Kalis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org