PHILADELPHIA — Oh, what might have been for Mark Whipple and still winless UMass following a frustrating, 29-21 loss to defending American Athletic Conference champion Temple last night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Despite 377 yards passing from Andrew Ford, a defense that limited the Owls to just 63 yards rushing the rest of the way after getting gashed for 56 yards the second play from scrimmage and seven trips inside the Temple 25-yard line, the Minutemen (0-4) still had nothing to show for it.
Whipple admitted to being less than enamored with the officiating — particularly after a fourth quarter pass interference penalty in the end zone was overruled to turn the ball over on downs — but said UMass only had itself to blame.
“You can’t drop three touchdown passes, miss three field goals and expect to win a game against anybody, let alone a team like Temple,” said Whipple, who knows it won’t get any easier next Saturday when UMass heads to Tennessee. “But I can’t kick it. I can’t catch it. I can’t recruit until December. So we’ll just keep chopping wood and grinding. They have more resources than we have, better players. Certainly Tennessee has more resources and better players. But we’ll show up and be ready to go.”
Facing a Temple (2-1) team that allowed Notre Dame to rack up 606 yards on offense in its opener, followed by back-to-back 375-plus yards through the air to Villanova and now UMass, the Owls were there to be beaten. But emergency kicker Mike Schreiner missed field goals of 23, 39 and 32 yards. And while Ford threw touchdown passes of 10 and 20 yards to Nick Orekoya and Britt Jones, respectively, he was also sacked nine times for 47 yards and had his receivers fail to come up big in the clutch.
The difference was Temple did.
“They made a couple of big plays and we didn’t,” said Whipple, who conceded a 13-point swing in the final 1:10 of the half turning a 7-3 lead into a 16-7 deficit was pivotal. The key play was a lost Ford fumble sandwiched between two touchdown passes by Temple quarterback Logan Marchi.
“Andrew just dropped the ball on that play — a terrible mistake,” Whipple said. “You can’t make that play.”
“That’s unacceptable,” agreed Ford. “I can’t do that to our team. But they’re a good defense. Give them credit. They’re a bend-but-don’t-break and kept us out of the end zone. That’s a sign of a good defense.”
A defense Whipple insists was aided a bit too much by…