Temple Owls Stun Penn State Nittany Lions 27-10 to End 74-year Losing Streak

(Max Petrosky)

Temple’s Tyler Matakevich (8) sacks Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (14) in the Owls 27-10 stunner at Lincoln Financial Field.

The last time the Temple Owls defeated the Penn State Nittany, Lions the United States was less than two months from entering World War II due to the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Tuition at the university on North Broad Street was only $275 per year.

It took 74 years and 13 U.S. Presidents, but the Owls finally ended their 31-game losing streak against their cross-state rivals with a 27-10 drubbing, thanks to a stellar defensive performance.

The Temple Owls ended their 74-year drought against the Penn State Nittany Lions with a resounding defensive performance on their way to a 27-10 victory. The Owls win ended a 31-game losing streak which included a shutouts in 1943 and 1947, a tie in 1950 and back-to-back one-point losses in 1975 and 1976.

The game started out as many games in this rivalry have, the Nittany Lions jumped out to an early 10-0 lead as they held the Owls to minus two yards on the ground in their first two series.

Despite not entering Penn State territory until early in the second quarter, the Owls chipped away by sticking to their rushing attack, a sound punt game and a defense which kept the game well within reach.

The Owls got on the scoreboard after a 12 play 93 yard drive which featured quarterback P.J. Walker and running back Jahad Thomas — who accounted for 51 yards on the dive, including a one-yard touchdown run.

The Owls trailed the Lions 10-3 at the half.

The Owls and Lions traded punts with the Nittany Lions for the first three series of the third quarter until they were able to piece together a 7 play 57 yard drive ending with an Austin Jones field goal to tie the game at ten a side. The Owls defense forced a three and out on Penn State’s next drive and after Temple’s offense went out in six plays, they began to leave their mark on this game.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg completed an 8-yard pass to Chris Godwin to move to their own 28 yard line. On the next play Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch intercepted a pass and would be downed at the Penn State 2-yard line after the initial call of a touchdown was overturned. P.J. Walker scored two plays later on a 1-yard run to give the Owls the only lead they would need.

The interception by Finch opened the floodgates for a defense which was ranked 4th nationally in 2014. The Owls tallied five of their ten total sacks of Hackenberg in the final quarter. Jahad Thomas scored on a 24-yard run to give the Owls a 24-10 lead as the Penn State contingent would begin their mass exodus out of Lincoln Financial Field. Temple head coach Matt Rhule, a Penn State alum set a goal of 40 sacks for his defense this season, the Owls are a quarter of the way to their goal with sacks 9 and 10 providing the Lions with a final foot out the door as time expired.

The victory set off a celebration for a football program that has come thisclose to becoming extinct. The Owls have bounced from Conference to Conference, looking for a place to finally become “one of the guys”. Now a member of the American Conference, the Owls may have finally found a home and some respect with yesterday’s win.

Running back Jahad Thomas finished with 160 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. The Owls struggled early with the run, but chose to stick with Thomas — who felt like the Lions wore down as the game went on.

“I had a few runs in the first quarter that I thought would have been bigger runs, but as a running back, I don’t think you can have that mentality. Eventually the big runs are going to come, you just have to keep chipping away.”

Thomas spoke about where a win like this could take the program and gives a glimpse as to where things could be headed for the surging Owls.

“It means a lot because you want guys to see how we work and want to be one of us (a Temple Owl) and see what we are as team, as a group and as a family.”

After finally unloading the weight of 31 games spanning 74 years, I’m sure the Temple family is very proud.

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