October 22, 2015
By Al Myatt
Walker keeps Owls unbeaten
All rights reserved.
Audio: Coach Ruff
One thing Temple showed in a 24-14 win at East Carolina on Thursday night is
that quality, not quantity, can be decisive at quarterback.
Portions of the contest on
ESPN2 were more deliberate than a lullaby, but when crunch time came, P.J.
Walker drove the Owls like a fire truck.
A win was crucial for the
Pirates to maintain control of their fate in the American Athletic
Conference East Division race, but ECU couldn't stop Walker from keeping the
Walker was much more effective
a 20-10 win over the Pirates in Philadelphia
last year when conditions were significantly worse and ECU lost five
The Pirate defense had kept the
Owls off the scoreboard, protecting a 14-10 lead after ECU lost a fourth
quarter fumble at the Temple 45.
But Walker stepped up on the
next series for the visitors as they moved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the
league with a nonconference date at home next week against Notre Dame.
A partially-blocked Pirates
punt put Temple at its 39 with 5:59 to go. A penalty on the boot moved the
Owls back to their 29. The retreat continued with another holding penalty
that put Temple on its 15.
The hole wasn't deep enough to
keep Walker from climbing out.
On second-and-24, the Temple
junior hit Robby Anderson for a 51-yard gain to the ECU 34. Five plays
later, Walker found Anderson again under pressure for a deciding 23-yard
touchdown and a 17-14 lead with 3:31 to go.
A blocked punt after a three
and out by the Owls defense led to a short field and a 14-yard touchdown run
by Jahad Thomas for the final margin.
Walker finished 19 of 35 for
250 yards with one score and no interceptions. He threw to the rangy
Anderson eight times for 126 yards.
Walker was seven of 19 for 70
yards against ECU in 2014.
"He's improved a lot," said
Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill. " ... He did a good job of managing their
offense. He did a good job of using his weapons. I told him after the game,
'Great job.' He's played pretty seriously all year long."
The Pirates started James
Summers at quarterback but played Blake Kemp the majority of the game.
Kemp went 31 for 48 for 272
yards with one touchdown and one pick. Summers was two for four for 11
yards. Summers had seven keepers for 29 yards.
"They had a plan for both
quarterbacks," McNeill said.
For the second straight year,
the Pirates outgained Temple to no avail. The difference was much smaller
this year, 378 total yards to 322, compared to last year's 428-135
Running back Chris Hairston
cited penalties as a factor that beat the Pirates, who are 4-4 overall and
2-2 in the AAC.
The flags definitely flew. The
Owls were penalized 12 times for 114 yards. ECU drew nine penalties for 99
The Pirates took a 14-10 lead
as Kemp passed to Quay Johnson for a 7-yard score with 18 seconds left in
the half to complete a 75-yard drive that followed a go-ahead score by the
Trevon Brown had a 30-yard
reception on third down to move ECU from its 22 to the Temple 48. Summers
came in on third-and-one at the Owls 39 to run for a first down. Summers
made a crucial two yards with a second-effort dive after getting hit in the
Facing fourth-and-10, Kemp
found Bryce Williams for a 21-yard gain to the Temple 16. A 9-yard pass to
Isaiah Jones preceded the score. Jones had 10 catches for 106 yards. Brown
had seven receptions for 77 yards.
ECU was beset by penalties
early. The Pirates were penalized five times in the first quarter for 65
yards. Two 15-yarders on Temple's first possession led to a 28-yard field
goal by Austin Jones and a 3-0 Owls lead with 9:38 left in the first
The Pirates had moved from
their 25 to the Temple 46 when a late-hit personal foul and a holding call
defused ECU's second possession.
A 39-yard run by Hairston was
key as ECU got as far as the Temple 16 before the series ended with a missed
field goal by Davis Plowman from 40 yards after Kemp was sacked on third
Kemp directed an 80-yard drive
capped by a 1-yard run from Hairston with 9:02 left in the second quarter
for a 7-3 Pirates lead. A 14-yard pass to Jones put the Pirates on the
The score ended a string of
eight quarters during which the Owls had not allowed a touchdown. Kemp had a
third down conversion pass to Williams and a fourth down completion to Brown
on the 14-play march that consumed 5:13. The Owls were flagged for pass
interference on a third down that moved ECU to the Temple 34.
ECU had some streaks of its own
impacted. The Pirates have lost 15 straight when scoring 20 points or less.
ECU had a 26-game winning streak halted when leading at halftime.
The Pirates have yielded just
three points following their last six turnovers. Kemp was picked off by
Temple's outstanding linebacker, Tyler Matakevich, in the third quarter. His
26-yard return put Temple at the ECU 27 but a major penalty helped move the
Owls back and Jones missed a 52-yard field goal attempt with 4:07 left in
ECU was held scoreless in the
The Pirates face a regrouping
challenge for a Friday night game at Connecticut on Oct. 30.
"We have four games left,"
McNeill said. " ... I told (the players) we've got two days to get away from
it. But Sunday, let's get started, put it behind us and get ready for
Kemp said the ECU quarterbacks
will work on getting the team refocused for a stretch run.
Bowl eligibility is still
dangling in front of the Pirates.
"Everybody is on board," Kemp
said. "Everybody loves Coach Ruff. He's going to get our mindset right. The
QBs, me and James, we'll do the same thing, keeping everybody positive,
keeping everybody ready to go. That's part of being a leader and we look
forward to doing that this week."
E-mail Al Myatt.
10/23/15 02:08 AM.