Owls register second shutout in row

Not since 1971 had a Temple football team put together back-to-back shutouts. That changed Saturday, when winless Akron visited Lincoln Financial Field and left with a 30-0 defeat.

The Zips drove across midfield only once.

The Owls, who were held to a couple of field goals during the first two quarters, came back with three second-half touchdowns and another three-pointer to put the game away.

Temple improved to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the Mid-American Conference, tying a school record with its 10th consecutive home victory. Akron, under first-year coach Rob Ianello, is 0-9 and 0-5.

Last week, the Owls won at Buffalo, 42-0.

"They have an opportunity to build their own memories," Temple defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio said. "No one can take away what they did the last two weeks, but at the same time, that's not our goal. Our ultimate goal is to get better and win a championship."

Temple quarterback Mike Gerardi made his second career start after opening up against Buffalo last week and throwing for three touchdowns with two interceptions. Against Akron, the southpaw went 15 for 22 for 209 yards and a touchdown pass to tight end Alex Jackson that opened Temple's lead to 13-0 with 11 minutes, 44 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

It was 16-0 after a 45-yard field goal by kicker Brandon McManus, who was good on all three of his attempts.

"I'm just out there playing my best," said Gerardi, a redshirt junior who had not taken a snap in college before this season. "I hadn't been on the field in 21/2 years. Being out there, the speed and everything. . . . It does take a game or two to get used to the speed, and get back to playing."

Temple took a 3-0 lead on its second possession of the game after its 84-yard drive was stopped at the Akron 10-yard line. McManus booted a 27-yard field goal with 6:11 remaining in the first period.

McManus' second field goal of the first half - from 25 yards - came after a 91-yard drive put Temple at the Zips' 8-yard line. A 45-yard pass from Gerardi to wide receiver Michael Campbell was the big play during the drive, which ended when the quarterback couldn't connect with wide receiver Deon Miller near the corner of the end zone.

The Owls invited trouble at the end of the second quarter, when Gerardi was sacked by Akron's Shawn Lemon and fumbled at his own 32. Lemon fell on the ball to give his team a first down with 1:33 to go.

But Temple held, and a 42-yard field-goal attempt by Akron's Igor Iveljic was blocked by the Owls' Kee-ayre Griffin with 30 seconds showing on the clock. Griffin sneaked in from the left side and got a piece of the ball with his left hand.

"We practiced that all week," said Griffin, who also delivered a couple of hard hits on special teams. "When you see the end try to block down, you chase down and launch in the air, and you should be able to block the field goal. Coach D'Onofrio told us to keep plugging away and great things will happen. We had the shutout for the second time in a row, and when we got back into the locker room, we heard about how long it'd been."

 


Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or ktatum@phillynews.com.