By Peter Gleason
Well, it was a good game for Temple for a half …
Penn State capitalized on five Temple turnovers, Akeel Lynch (photo above) rushed for 130 yards and the Nittany Lions defeated the Owls 30-13 on Saturday to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011.
Penn State (6-4) rushed for a season-high 254 yards as Bill Belton added 92 yards on 19 carries. Lynch rushed 18 times and scored on a 38-yard touchdown.
The Nittany Lions held Temple (5-5) to 268 yards and intercepted quarterback P.J. Walker four times.
Tied 6-6 late in the third quarter, Penn State capitalized on turnovers on four straight Temple possessions late in the third and early in the fourth to pull away.
Grant Haley, one of four Penn State freshmen to play in the secondary, returned a Walker pass 30 yards for a touchdown and a 27-13 lead. Christian Campbell, Adrian Amos and Jesse DellaValle also had interceptions and Austin Johnson recovered a Walker fumble.
Sam Ficken kicked three field goals to become one of just three kickers in Penn State history to have at least 50 career field goals.
Penn State wasn’t without its own sloppiness as Temple set itself up three times with short-field opportunities with a fumble and two interceptions.
Walker was 17 of 38 for 187 yards and the four interceptions. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg was just 12 of 26 for 112 yards and a pair of picks.
Tyler Matakevich returned Hackenberg’s second interception 41 yards and Penn State was guilty of blocking below the waist to set up the Owls at the 16. But Deion Barnes stuffed Jamie Gilmore on a third-and-1 run up the middle and Austin Jones tied the game at 6-6 on a 25-yard field goal with 6:52 left in the third quarter.
The Lions took control with their ground game when Belton swept right for 37 yards to the 38. Lynch went over the 100-yard mark for the third time in his career when he started out over left tackle, shifted left, broke a tackle by Alex Wells and broke free for the 38-yard score and a 13-6 lead.
Penn State appeared to have the game in hand when Temple’s Walker, under pressure by linebacker Brandon Bell, was intercepted by Adrian Amos, who returned it 33 yards to the 8. Belton scored from there to pad Penn State’s lead to 20-6, but Temple immediately countered.
Walker found a wide-open Jalen Fitzpatrick who beat Penn State’s Jordan Lucas and hauled in a 75-yard scoring pass to close the Owls’ deficit to 20-13.