If you had the USF Bulls and the 14 points in which the Temple Owls were favored in Saturday's game in Philadelphia, you would have won handily. But the game itself was frustrating for the Bulls, as turnovers and big penalties killed them in an entertaining 39-37 loss.
Bulls quarterback Jordan McCloud's three touchdown passes were negated by three lost fumbles, the last one returned 11 yards for a touchdown early in the 4th quarter by Temple's Arnold Ebiketie that gave Temple a 32-31 lead that they never lost. Bulls running ack Kelly Joiner was credited with the fumble, but there appeared to be miscommunication between McCloud and Joiner on the run-pass option handoff.
The penalties that harmed USF started early, as on third and six in their very first series, McCloud completed a 62-yard pass to Bryce Miller that was called back on an offensive pass interference by tight end Chris Carter.
The turnovers also started early, as McCloud fumbled as he was sacked by Ebiketie on the second play after Temple took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. The Bulls defense, however, stiffened, and held Temple to a field goal that gave the Owls a 10-0 lead.
But USF answered right away, after the ensuing 35-yard kickoff return by Leonard Parker set the Bulls up at the Temple 49. McCloud threw his first touchdown pass, completing the 10-play drive with a bullet to randall St. Felix to cut the deficit to 10-7.
The Bulls then took the lead in the second quarter, as they completed a 10-play, 95-yard drive on McCloud's second touchdown pass, this one to Devontres Dukes for 28 yards.
The see-saw first half continued as Temple regained the lead with an 11-play touchdown drive of its own, capped by a 13-yard touchdown pass from Owls' quarterback Anthony Russo to Jadan Blue.
The Bulls went three-and-out on their next possession, but got the ball back on an interception by Mekhi LaPointe. USF turned that into points, as Noah Johnson gave the Bulls a 21-17 lead on a two-yard run.
The Bulls received a gift on the ensuing kickoff late in the half, as they recovered the ball when Temple failed to field the kick. However, that opportunity turned to dust with McCloud losing his second fumble of the day.
The Owls opened the second half with a long field goal drive, and after the Bulls scored on a 13-yard touchdown pass from McCloud to Johnny Ford, it looked as if the Bulls were about to seize control of the game. They even extended their lead to 31-20 on a 29-yard field goal by Jared Sackett. That score was set up by a Daquan Evans 56-yard interception return deep into Temple territory.
The next Temple possession, in hindsight, turned the tide in Temple's favor. After what looked like a solid pass breakup by Bulls' linebacker Antonio Greer, he was called for targeting, and the penalty continued the Owls' drive, and got Grier ejected from the game. That seemed to sap the life out of the Bulls' defense.
The seven-play, 57-yard drive ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Russo to Branden Mack. A two point conversion attempt failed, but the Owls were within five, and had some momentum that allowed them to regain the lead.
Temple extended its lead to eight on a 10-play, 81-yard drive, culminating in a 13-yard pass from Russo to Randle Jones.
USF's last score came on an impressive drive of its own covering 72 yards in 12 plays, and ending on a one-yard plunge by Parker, his first touch as a running back this season. The two-point conversion to tie the game failed badly, and Temple ran down the clock to seven seconds, punting the ball to the Bulls, and ultimately, running out the clock.
The Bulls return home for a Friday night matchup against the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes.
Video Courtesy: Temple University