ECU 28, Temple 3
Temple (1-6, 1-6 The American) was forced to rely heavily on a number of true freshmen after a positive COVID test led to a 50-minute delay and an early morning suspension led to walk-on Kamal Gray starting at quarterback as the Owls fell to the ECU Pirates (2-6, 2-5 The American), 28-3, on Saturday.
An unknown Temple player started showing COVID-like symptoms around 11am and was taken out of Lincoln Financial Field to be tested. While awaiting the test results, Temple's COVID contact tracing identified five Temple players as being at risk of exposure, including three who were projected to start on defense. Eventually it was determined that the game could take place without the five identified Owls.
The uncertainty of even playing the game added extra stress to a Temple team that was already dealing with a depleted roster. Even before the COVID incident, Temple was poised to start a true freshman quarterback at quarterback. Initially the plan was to start Matt Duncan, who entered the season as Temple's No. 4 quarterback, but Duncan was suspended indefinitely from the program hours prior to kickoff.
In Duncan's place, Gray, who learned he was starting at 8:40am on Saturday, threw for 95 yards and two interceptions. Gray became the fourth different Temple player to start at quarterback this season, the most ever by a Temple team during the FBS season. Wide receiver Branden Mack also played quarterback for a handful of series and ran three times for 16 yards.
Elsewhere on offense, Tayvon Ruley rushed 14 times for a team-high 48 yards but missed the second half with a shoulder injury. In his absence, redshirt-freshman Onasis Neely recorded career highs in carries (15) and yards (38). Overall, Temple rushed 46 times for 140 yards.
On defense, Temple started true freshmen at linebacker and safety and also had to convert a safety, Jalen Ware, at cornerback. In spite of this, Temple's defense forced two turnovers and five three and outs. Punter Adam Barry tied the Temple record for most punts in a game (11) and nearly set the single game yardage record with 492 punt yards. Five of Barry's punts were within the 20.
For ECU, Holton Ahlers completed 11 of his 22 passes for 182 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Wideout Tyler Snead burned Temple in the receiving game to the tune of 75 yards and a touchdown, as well as in the return game with a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Temple's season, barring a shocking bowl invite, will come to an end next Saturday when Temple hosts No. 7 Cincinnati. ECU, meanwhile, will host SMU in its season finale.
Listen to postgame interviews here.