Snead helps East Carolina knock off Temple

Tyler Snead scored on a 95-yard kickoff return and a 46-yard reception, leading East Carolina to a 28-3 win over the host Temple in an American Athletic Conference game on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Kickoff was delayed 50 minutes due to COVID-19 protocol issues. According to reports, a non-playing close personal contact of a Temple player tested positive for COVID-19.

The Pirates (2-6, 2-5 AAC) snapped a four-game losing streak, and they did it against a team that had beaten them in each of the past six years.

Temple (1-6, 1-6) has lost five straight games.

Snead, a sophomore who entered the game with 12 career touchdowns, had 244 all-purpose yards against Temple. On his kickoff return, he broke through three weak attempts at tackles and escaped injury despite diving into some empty end-zone seats.

Pirates quarterback Holton Ahlers completed 11 of 22 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. He also ran for 70 yards and one score.

Kamal Gray, a true freshman walk-on, started at quarterback for the Owls, who have lost their top three passers due to injury or illness. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 95 yards and was intercepted once.

Gray was benched in the third quarter and replaced with wide receiver Branden Mack.

On a day in which the depleted Owls had just 51 scholarship players — and 26 of those were freshmen — defensive end Evan Boozer was a rare Temple standout, blocking a field goal and recovering a fumble.

East Carolina scored first, taking a 7-0 lead on Ahlers’ 60-yard pass to C.J. Johnson with 33 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. Prior to that, Pirates kicker Jake Verity missed a field goal from 35 yards and had a 42-yarder blocked by Boozer.

Temple linebacker Jordan Magee came up with his first career interception and returned it 45 yards to the East Carolina 18-yard line. Temple’s offense, however, failed to get a first down, settling for Rory Bell’s 28-yard field goal with 11:36 left in the first half.

East Carolina stretched its lead to 14-3 as Snead took the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.

Temple seemed set up to close its deficit after Boozer recovered Rahjai Harris’ fumble at the East Carolina 21.

But Shawn Dourseau intercepted Gray’s pass in the end zone for a touchback, and East Carolina put together a two-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, heading to halftime with a 21-3 lead. The drive consisted of Keaton Mitchell’s 34-yard run and Snead’s 46-yard reception.

The Pirates went up 28-3 in the third quarter on Ahlers’ 1-yard run. The TD was set up by Ahlers’ 75-yard scramble.

East Carolina cruised from there, earning its first win since Oct. 10 at South Florida.