Lincoln Financial Field —The Tigers suffered a 30-28 loss to Temple in a controversial game Saturday afternoon at Philadelphia, PA. Brady White threw for a career-high 363 yards (28-of-43 passing), but he had problems with four turnovers.
Memphis trailed 16-0 for being turnover-prone and White’s fumble to open the fourth quarter was a costly mistake that lead Temple into a scoring drive. On two Tigers’ possessions, White threw a pick into the hands of a Temple (5-1, 1-1) defender and played a role in two fumbles after a strip-sack and a fumbled exchange.
White helped the Tigers fight back by leading the offense on two scoring drives just before the break. Damonte Coxie had 92 yards on eight catches, and Magnifico added a career-high 87 receiving yards.
Despite the turnovers, the Tigers marched their way down into the Owls’ territory with under three minutes left in the game. Then a fourth-down pass to Joey Magnifico was ruled incomplete sending Temple into a crazy celebration.
The Tigers thought it was a catch.
“Everybody on the sideline thought it was a catch,” Magnifico said.
It was fourth-and-7 with less than two minutes to go on the clock and a Temple defender grabbed the numbers on the back of White’s jersey causing him to toss the ball downfield in the direction of Magnifico.
The ball sailed through the air as Magnifico sprinted and dove to pull it in. For about a minute, their undefeated season was intact.
“I know there was movement within the ball, but it’s a pretty big Jumbotron,” Norvell said. “It looked like his arm was underneath it.”
After a few minutes reviewing the play, an official came to the Memphis huddle to tell the Tigers that the play had been reversed. The ball hit the ground and it wasn’t a catch.
The American Athletic Conference did not make the replay official available for comment because it was a judgment call, citing a league policy.
“The ruling was that the Memphis player didn’t have control of the ball as it hit the ground and that there was enough video evidence to confirm it,” AAC assistant commissioner Chuck Sullivan told a pool reporter.
If Memphis’s defense were not on the field for 20 minutes in the first half, the outcome would have been different. Their quarterback made too many mistakes and threw a terrible interception that ultimately led to 16 Owl points.
The telling moment came just as Memphis was in the middle of grabbing momentum back after a disastrous first quarter.
Temple put pressure on White all game long and if the Tigers were going to beat them it had to be through the air.
The defense forced all those field goals and forced a fumble of its own. White responded with a strike down the middle to Magnifico and a strike rolling to his left to wide receiver Damonte Coxie to finally get Memphis on the board.
“That was embarrassing. I need to get better,” White said. “You can’t have those.”
Temple answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive, the Tigers responded with one of their own, capped off by a 25-yard Gainwell score that led Shroff to reveal Temple’s strategy.
The start the second half Memphis clicked with a 95-yard touchdown drive that showcased White, Gainwell and Norvell’s gutsy third-down play-call that resulted in a 23-yard touchdown run by running back Kylan Watkins midway through the third quarter.
Suddenly, a 16-point deficit had turned into a game. Temple 23, Memphis 21, and plenty of time to go.
Time just ran out for the Tigers.