PHILADELPHIA — Victory No. 1 seemed well within UMass’ grasp last night when the Minutemen took the lead late in the first half over defending American Athletic Association champ Temple.
The defense, after getting gashed for 56 yards on the second play of the game, responded by holding the Owls to a field goal. Meanwhile, the offense, which moved the ball seemingly at will at times only to bog down inside the red zone, finally cashed in.
Then within a matter of moments that four-point lead became a nine-point halftime deficit, which proved too much to overcome, as the Minutemen fell, 29-21.
Temple scored 13 points in a 54-second span to take command on a pair of Logan Marchi touchdown passes wrapped around a fumble by UMass quarterback Andrew Ford. But even after the Owls added to the lead, UMass kept battling back. Ultimately, the Minutemen’s inability to convert deep inside Temple territory, coupled with kicker Michael Schreiner going 0-for-3, sealed their fate.
Down 16-7 at the break despite controlling play most of the night at both ends of the field, UMass hoped to switch the momentum with a quick second half score. Instead, following a quick three-and-out Temple (2-1) pushed it to 19-7 on Aaron Boumerhi’s career-long 52-yard field goal.
But the Minutemen answered with a nine-play, 64-yard drive, culminating in Jessie Britt’s 20-yard touchdown catch from Ford, cutting it to 19-14. Austin Jones’ second field goal of the night extended Temple’s lead to 22-14 late in the third.
The Minutemen promptly drove deep into Temple territory, but after having first-and-goal at the 9-yard line UMass went in reverse. For the third time of the night they had to call on Schreiner for a makeable field goal. For the third time Shreiner failed to deliver, this time from 32 yards out.
UMass (0-4) again got within striking distance on its ensuing possession, but turned the ball over on downs after the officials overruled a potential pass interference call on fourth down.
Temple added some insurance with a 10-play, 72-yard drive, as Marchi hit Isaiah Wright for a 13-yard with 3:48 left to push the lead to 29-14.
Ford answered with a 3-yard touchdown run with 2:07 to play to slice the deficit to 29-21.
UMass managed to get the ball back with 26 seconds remaining, but was unable to cross midfield before time ran out.
On Temple’s second play from scrimmage, Ryquell Armstead broke loose for a 56-yard run to the 15. But UMass buckled down and forced the…