Pierce, Owls Soar Over Grounded Bulls
Buffalo can’t stop temple run game
Published: Sunday, October 16, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Do the Bulls still have a chance to be competitive in the MAC?
PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Bulls strolled into Philadelphia with all sorts of confidence after their shootout victory last weekend over Ohio. But the Temple Owls seemed a step ahead of the Bulls from the opening kickoff to the final whistle.
Saturday's Buffalo (2-5, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) versus Temple (5-2, 2-1 MAC) matchup saw the Mid-American Conference's two top rushers –junior Bernard Pierce and sophomore Branden Oliver – go head-to-head. Two impressive running backs showed up to Lincoln Financial Field.
Neither plays for Buffalo.
Temple running backs Pierce and Matt Brown willed their team to a 34-0 victory. "[Running] is our identity, and that's what we want our identity to be," said Temple head coach Steve Addazio. "When you're a powerful run team like we are, and you see the other team buckling, the best thing you can do is attack them again."
"Buckling" is an understatement.
Pierce gutted the Buffalo D for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, while Brown carried 12 times for 120 yards and a touchdown of his own. The Bulls couldn't corral either rusher, as Pierce and Brown frequently broke out of tackles for massive gains.
"There are a lot of plays that I didn't make that really burned me," said senior safety Josh Copeland. "I really let the team down. This one hurts."
The Buffalo players said this one was about payback, as the Owls trampled the Bulls last year, 42-0. Unfortunately for Buffalo, the Bulls struggled on both sides of the ball.
The stats tell the whole story. Temple finished with 458 yards of offense – 400 on the ground. Conversely, Buffalo finished with 155 total.
Buffalo head coach Jeff Quinn said earlier this week that he knew Temple was going to try to play a ball-control game. The Owls succeeded. Temple had the ball for 39:08, while Buffalo had possession for only 20:52.
"Probably the best thing that happened was we won the coin toss," Quinn said.
Oliver carried 21 times for 65 yards and no touchdowns, finishing well below his season average of 113.2 yards per game. Senior quarterback Chazz Anderson – who finally had an eye-opening performance last week – struggled throughout the course of the game, putting up zero points and finishing with 84 yards on 9-of-26 passing.
Oliver said his team's primary struggles are inconsistency and a lack of leadership. The veteran Anderson said he knows a lot of responsibility falls on him.
The game's scariest moment came midway through the second quarter. Standout senior wide receiver Terrell Jackson – a preseason all-MAC selection – was hit hard as he returned a kick, and he remained motionless on the field for more than 15 minutes. Jackson was carried off on a stretcher.
He was hit in the head on the play and felt numbness. The team reported that Jackson was responsive and he was able to move during those dramatic moments, but the training staff took every precaution. X-rays were negative.
Jackson was the last person to board the team plane, wearing a neck brace and hospital garments, but walking slowly under his own power. The team applauded as he walked to his seat.
Temple started like the Bulls expected them to – running the football. Pierce carried eight times on the game's opening drive, which resulted in a field goal.
The Bulls kept him bottled up for the most part on the Owls' first drive, but he wouldn't be contained for too long. After Buffalo went three-and-out on its first possession (a common sight throughout the ballgame), Pierce exploded for an electrifying 28-yard run, and then punched it in from two yards out.
The score was 10-0 at the end of one. Pierce had already rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Even when Buffalo did something right, things went wrong. The Buffalo defense stopped Temple and forced a punt with 5:21 remaining in the second quarter. However, the Owls faked the punt and directly snapped the ball to linebacker Ahkeem Smith, who sprinted 49 yards for a touchdown.
Pierce finished the first half with 150 yards, and Temple headed into the halftime break with a 24-0 advantage.