West Point, NY - The slogan for the 2008 Temple Football team is "Flip the Switch', and third-year head coach Al Golden's Owls did just that in posting a convincing 35-7 season opening win over Army at Michie Stadium Friday night. It marked Temple's first season-opening victory since a 34-7 win over Richmond in 2002.
The Owls literally flipped the switch on the Black Knights as they used key turnovers and a 98-yard kickoff return by Jamal Schulters to lead them to the win. That was the formula Army utilized in defeating Temple, 37-21, last season.
Temple, however, is a not the youngest team in the nation this year, and the Owls looked more like a veteran squad from the outset. After turning the ball over on their first possession, the Cherry and White defense stood strong, stopping the Black Knight on four downs in the ensuing possession. That would set the tone for the contest.
Temple's defense stymied the Black Knights' newly installed option-based offense all game. It was the lowest point total for a Temple opponent since 2004 while the defense forced three key turnovers that led to 14 Owl points.
Senior Tommie Williams made the first big play for the Owls, stripping return specialist Carlo Sandiego at the 8 yard-line and recovering the fumble. Sophomore Marquise Liverpool, making his first start in the TU backfield, made two carries to move the ball to the five yard-line, and following a Temple timeout, DiMichele found his favorite target, senior wideout Bruce Francis in the left corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
Junior kicker Jake Brownell converted the extra point to give Temple a 7-0 lead.
On the Owls' next possession, DiMichele directed the offense on a 10-play, 71-yard drive, capping it with a seven-yard TD pass to tight end Steve Maneri. Liverpool, who led all Temple rushers with xxx yards, was impressive on the march down field, with two first down carries. DiMichele also had first down passes to Francis (12 yards) and Travis Shelton (18 yards) on the scoring drive that gave the Cherry and White a 14-0 lead just before the end of the first quarter.
Redshirt freshman Morkeith Brown, a 6-6 defensive end, made his presence known in his first collegiate game. A product of Harrisburg's Central Dauphin High, Brown, who actually enlisted in the Army following high school, stripped quarterback Carson Williams at the 17 yard-line on the first play of the second quarter and returned it for the score, making it 21-0 Owls.
Schulters kept the pressure on the hosts by taking the opening kickoff of the second-half 98 yards to paydirt. It was the first kickoff return for a TD since 2006.
Senior Tony Dace finally put the Black Knights on the scoreboard with a one-yard plunge to cap the longest drive of the game for either team, a 14-play, 78 yarder over seven-minutes and 32 seconds to cut the deficit to 28-7 with 7:10 remaining in the third quarter.
Liverpool capped the scoring on the night with a one-yard TD, his first career score. The touchdown was set up by a 28-yard reception by Shelton to the Army one.
Temple's defense held strong on a fourth-and-two with Alex Joseph and Wilbert Brinson stuffing Dace at the goal-line with 7:24 remaining.
Junior DE Junior Galette led the Cherry and White defense with 11 tackles, six solo, while Amara Kamara and Alex Joseph each made nine stops.
DiMichele who missed the final five games of last season with a broken leg, completed 15 of 22 passes for 159 yards and two TDS. Francis led a balanced receiving corps with five catches for 45 yards .
Sophomore punter Jeff Wathne had a stellar game, making four punts for a 44 yard average while also making a touchdown-saving tackle.
The Owls (1-0) will host Connecticut next Saturday (Noon, ESPNU) at Lincoln Financial Field in its home opener. The Owls are looking to avenge last season's controversial 22-17 loss to the Huskies.