By Sam Bush
Phillip Walker threw three first-quarter touchdown passes and finished with 215 yards passing to lead Temple to its fourth consecutive win, 21-0 at UConn.
Running back Jahad Thomas caught two of those touchdowns and had 73 receiving yards to go with 83 yards rushing. The Owls other running back, Ryquell Armstead, ran 20 times for 133 yards and Temple (7-3, 5-1 American) put up 431 yards of offense.
UConn freshman quarterback Donovan Williams, playing in his first game, completed 12 of 21 passes for 69 yards and ran for 66. The Huskies (3-7, 1-5) have lost four straight.
Walker completed his first eight passes and Temple scored all of the game’s points on its first three drives. The senior hit Thomas on scoring strikes of 23 and 10-yards and found receiver Romond Deloatch from 18-yards out.
The Owls put up 206 yards in the first quarter.
“We got a rhythm going and we got going,” said Walker.
But, his ninth pass was intercepted in the end zone by UConn’s Obi Melifonwu, who picked off another in the end zone in the fourth quarter to end a 13-play, 87-yard Temple drive.
“Had we not had those, maybe we come away and it’s a 35-42 point game, said coach Matt Rhule. “We had three turnovers and still won the game, that’s pretty hard to do.”
The Temple defense made sure UConn never got in the game. The Owls held the Huskies to 160 yards of offense.
Williams, who was expected to redshirt this season, had a 43-yard first-quarter run to set up UConn’s best scoring chance. But Temple’s Michael Dogbe blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt.
It was the third straight week the Owls have blocked a kick.
“The team tried hard today,” UConn coach Bob Diaco said. “It’s not for a lack of trying. They fought hard, they continue to strain. (But) there’s so much to clean up. People don’t want to hear me say positive things anymore.”
The Owls remain in good in position to win the American Athletic Conference’s East Division. Temple and South Florida have one loss each in the conference, but Temple holds the tiebreaker after beating the Bulls last month. USF has a bye this week before playing at Memphis on Nov. 12.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” Walker said. “We’ve gone out there and competed and even though we are a little bit beat up, we haven’t made any excuses.”
Walker’s 215 passing yards give him 2,205 for the season. He becomes the first player in school history to throw for more than 2,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.