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Temple Shocks Penn State In Deflating 27-10 Season-Opening Loss

Penn State kicked the 2015 season off with a very, very surprising loss. The Owls were expected to keep it close and competitive, but that wasn’t the case — their win came in near-blowout fashion, running off 27 unanswered points en route to giving Penn State its first opening loss since 2012.

How it Happened

The first quarter was as dominant as an opener as Penn State could’ve hoped for. Temple received the opening kick and followed it up with a three-and-out, then Penn State’s first offensive play was a 33-yard rush from Brandon Polk. Joe “Big Toe” Julius converted his first collegiate field goal try to put the Lions ahead 3-0.

A balanced crowd cheered for most plays, despite the Owls’ offense being nearly nonexistent in the first quarter. The Owls managed their only first down of the quarter on one of the last plays. That only came after Penn State’s Akeel Lynch broke off a 42-yard rush to score the game’s first touchdown. After one quarter, the visiting team led 10-0 — the score and style of play looked to place Penn State in a favorable spot, but the second quarter raised some doubts.

The quarter’s first six minutes looked fine — nothing more or less. When Temple took the ball over with nine minutes to go, the half and game completely changed direction. The longest scoring drive that Penn State’s defense allowed last season was 80 yards. Temple’s 93-yard, seven-minute scoring drive completely deflated the team for the rest of the period. The half ended uneventfully but mercifully for the Lions, who received the ball to start the second half.

Penn State opened the half with a disheartening sub-two-minute possession, but followed it up by forcing a three-and-out. Neither side was able to get any offense rolling until the eight-minute mark when a trick play completely fooled the Lions’ defense. On the following play, a would-be first down was called back on a holding call. Then a tipped ball fell right into a Temple receiver’s hands, the latest of many things going wrong for the Nittany Lions. The Owls capped the drive off with a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at ten points each.

After another uneventful Penn State series, the Owls took over late in the third quarter. Quarterback P.J. Walker’s first pass went right through Jason Cabinda’s arms, then quick passing plays brought Temple to the 39-yard line. A punt followed by a telegraphed Hackenberg pass (intercepted and brought to the two-yard line) set up an easy score to give the Owls a 17-10 lead as the third quarter came to an end.

Then, suddenly, Temple made it look easy again as Jahad Thomas walked in his second touchdown of the day. Penn State’s next possession looked like this:

Temple added another field goal to put the game out of reach. The Owls ended the game mercifully at a score of 27-10 in front of mostly Temple fans.

Player of the Game

Jahad Thomas, P.J. Walker, and a few other Owls tore up the Lions today. As for Penn State’s player of the game… Akeel Lynch? He had some yards and a score.

Tweet of the Game

Donovan Smith, who left Penn State following his junior year, was one of many former players who ripped the Lions’ offense today.

Takeaways

  • The offensive line wasn’t as good as we’d hoped. Hackenberg was sacked ten times, despite the unit returning four starters. It started off better than last year, especially when you look at Penn State’s 88 rushing yards in the first quarter. That being said, third-down sacks in the second half are disheartening for the whole offense. Temple set a new AAC record with ten sacks in the game. It ended up awful.
  • Akeel Lynch is exciting enough. After playing mostly behind Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak, Lynch finally is the go-to guy in the backfield. He was among the Nittany Lions’ least disappointing players.
  • The “trap game” label was fair. Please don’t read our staff predictions. Temple’s win shocked the college football landscape, and this game has to put doubt in the minds of Penn State fans who expect a substantially winning season.
  • Hackenberg… Come on. The junior quarterback doesn’t deserve all the criticism for today’s loss, but even when he had time to throw and had open receivers, he would miss. A top NFL prospect doesn’t throw for 103 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception.

What’s Next?

We’ll see you at Beaver Stadium next Saturday at noon when the Buffalo Bulls meet Penn State for the home-opener.

About the Author

Doug Leeson

Doug is a sophomore and Onward State's Assistant Managing Editor. Dislikes: popcorn, Rutgers, and a low #TimberCount. Likes: "Frozen," Rec Hall, and you. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @DougLeeson.

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