In a wild, high scoring affair, the Houston Cougars fell victim to self-inflicted errors in both halves and were pounded on the ground by the Temple Owls, dropping their second straight American Athletic Conference game, by the final score of 59-49 Friday night at TDECU Stadium.
The Cougars were dominated into submission on the ground with the Owls gaining 312 total yards rushing (5.6 a carry) and scoring all eight of their touchdowns on the ground.
Temple senior running back Ryquell Armstead splintered the Cougars paws to the tune of 30 rushes for 210 yards and six touchdowns.
To start things off, Houston was held to a three-and-out on the first drive of the game and then had their punt blocked by Temple, recovered at the Houston 8-yard line.
Armstead was in the end zone two plays later from 5 yards out to put the Cougars down 7-0 early.
Houston tried to answer as quarterback D’Eriq King led the Cougars down field, but he would fumble with the Owls recovering at their own 34-yard line.
Faced with a punt on a fourth-and-5 from the Houston 35, the Owls caught the Cougars napping with a fake punt extending the drive that finished in another score by Armstead, this time from 4 yards out, putting Houston in a 14-0 hole.
The Cougars finally scored with 2:52 left in the first quarter when King found Raelon Singleton on a 2-yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead in half, 14-7.
Down 21-7 in the middle of the second quarter, a pair of penalties doomed the Cougars.
First a false start turned a fourth-and-1, which Houston was about to go for, into a fourth-and-6 and a punt.
Second, on the ensuing Temple possession, a unsportsmanlike penalty turned a fourth-and-16 hole into a first down for Temple, which Armstead took advantage of shortly after, rushing into the end zone from 2 yards out and taking a 28-14 lead.
The “boo” birds were out at TDECU Stadium after the Houston coaching staff elected to run the ball three straight times on a drive with over 2 minutes left in the half, in which Houston could have tried to put some points on the board.
This came one week after the mysterious game at SMU in which a run-happy game plan resulted in a loss that held King to only 22 attempted passes.
On Saturday, King passed 46 times, totaling 322 yards and five interceptions, while also picking up 125 yards rushing on the ground and a rushing touchdown.
The two teams would go on to trade blows back and forth, but the Houston defense could never recover from their early errors and get back in the game.
Houston receiver Bryson Smith had a game, hauling in three touchdown passes and totaling 117 yards receiving.
The Cougars have fallen into a first place tie with SMU in the AAC West with a record of 4-2 and will have a quick turn-around back home against Tulane, Thursday at 7 p.m.