SHUTDOWN: Temple pitches another second-half shutout as Wildcats defeat stubborn Magnolia West 28-13
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
LOWERING THE BOOM: Temple senior cornerback Keon Williams delivers a hard hit to Magnolia West punt returner JT Phillips inside the 5-yard line during the third quarter of the Wildcats' 28-13 victory over the Mustangs on Friday night at Mustang Stadium. Williams helped Temple's defense record a second-half shutout for the second straight week. (Photo by Matt Corley, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)
By GREG WILLE
MAGNOLIA – Allow 13 points in an up-and-down first half, then come back to post a second-half shutout and pull away for the win. These Temple Wildcats might be onto something, because that scenario certainly has worked well for them through two games this season.
Temple's increasingly active defense didn't allow any second-half points for the second straight week, and Samari Howard's 2-yard touchdown run right before halftime following a crucial Magnolia West turnover and Mikal Harrison-Pilot's acrobatic 11-yard scoring reception from Humberto Arizmendi early in the fourth quarter created the separation the Wildcats needed as they defeated the stubborn Mustangs 28-13 on a clear, cool Friday night at Mustang Stadium.
“This week we didn't really have a good Monday practice or a good Tuesday practice, so we had to regain our focus,” said Howard, who scored two of Temple's four touchdowns to help fuel a 372-yard offensive attack.
In its season opener last Friday at Arlington's AT&T Stadium, Temple trailed state-ranked Longview 13-10 at halftime but then outscored the Lobos 30-0 in the final two quarters to seize a decisive 40-13 victory.
The Wildcats (2-0) were clinging to a 14-13 lead over Magnolia West (1-1) late in the first half when hard-charging junior running back Hunter Bilbo lost a fumble at Temple's 8-yard line with 2:22 remaining, thwarting a promising drive on which the Mustangs could have grabbed the lead.
Instead, the Wildcats used a 2-minute drill to march 92 yards and get Howard's 2-yard touchdown rush with 17 seconds left for a 21-13 Temple halftime advantage. Sophomore Harrison-Pilot's scoring reception from Arizmendi (19-of-28 passing, 205 passing yards, two touchdowns) to begin the fourth was the game's only second-half score and gave Arizmendi six TD passes in his first two career varsity games.
Temple scored its other two touchdowns in the back-and-forth first quarter against Magnolia West: Arizmendi's 38-yard touchdown strike to wide-open fellow senior Luke Allen down the left sideline, and Howard's 7-yard scoring keeper on a shotgun snap to the versatile junior who rushed 17 times for a game-high 111 of the Wildcats' 167 rushing yards on 35 carries.
“Our main goal this week was to establish the run,” said Howard, who was limited to 20 rushing yards by a Longview defense that yielded only 37 yards on 24 Temple carries. “We had some problems up front, but we got through it because (Magnolia West is) a heavy blitz team. We wanted to establish the run, make sure our throws were on point and just execute. I think we did pretty well.”
ROOM TO RUN: Temple junior running back Samari Howard rushes into the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown during the first quarter of the Wildcats' 28-13 win at Magnolia West on Friday night as Temple senior receiver Luke Allen (12) blocks on the play. (Photo by Matt Corley, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)
Said Temple fifth-year head coach Scott Stewart about the development of his squad's rushing game: “I think we progressed to inconsistent. Last week, I just don't think we were very good trying to run the football. It's a process. We've got a brand-new offensive line, so those guys are going to have to keep grinding.
“Preparation is going to be the key. We've got a 2½-hour ride home to think about how we get them to understand the importance of practice intensity. Magnolia West is a good football team, so to come out with a win, I'll take it. It's tough to come into somebody's (stadium). Home-field advantage is the real deal.”
On the other side, Temple's defense had significant difficulty slowing down Magnolia West's balanced, big-play offense in the first half. Dual-threat quarterback Brock Dalton passed for 182 yards with a 64-yard touchdown bomb to Jeffrey Krop, and the Bilbo-led Mustangs rushed for 143 yards to compile a staggering 325 total yards before halftime.
However, the Wildcats' defensive coaching staff made the necessary adjustments at halftime, and the results were impeccable. Temple allowed only 86 yards (50 rushing, 36 passing) in the second half, and Dalton didn't complete a pass longer than 11 yards in the final two quarters after firing strikes of 64, 45 and 20 in the first two. Junior free safety O'Tarian Peoples sealed the Wildcats' win by making an interception with 1:30 remaining, the third takeaway he's been involved in through two games.
“We just gelled. We're a brotherhood and we're building each other up no matter what,” Temple sophomore middle linebacker Taurean York. “(In the first half) we weren't wrapping up and fitting into the right gaps, so we just went back to the basics.”
The defensive-minded Stewart commended the in-game fixes his defensive coaching staff made that allowed the Wildcats to shore up their deficiencies after halftime.
“With one game, you don't know what (the opposing offense) can do. I think good coaches make their hay at halftime, and I thought our guys did a great job making some adjustments,” Stewart said after his 40th win as Temple's head coach. “We moved around a little bit more and tweaked some keys here and there based on what we saw.”
HALFTIME ADJUSTMENTS: Sophomore middle linebacker Taurean York helped Temple's defense allow only 86 yards in the second half after host Magnolia West compiled 325 yards (182 passing, 143 rushing) before halftime Friday night. The Wildcats (2-0) haven't allowed a point after halftime this season, outscoring Longview 30-0 in the second half of last week's 40-13 win and outscoring Magnolia West 7-0 in the second half at Mustang Stadium. (Photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)
Second-year Magnolia West head coach Blake Joseph – part of the coaching staff on three consecutive district champion Temple teams from 2013-15 – knew that his Mustangs had a prime opportunity to beat the Wildcats if not for all the mistakes they made.
“We've got a dang good football team and so does Temple. Kudos to them. It was just miscues tonight,” said Joseph, who succeeded former Temple assistant J.D. Berna as Magnolia West's head coach in 2019. “We should've scored two touchdowns in the first half but we settled for field goals. We were driving in and we fumbled the ball. We had another drive inside the 10 and we get a 15-yard penalty. It's just mistakes, and then we had too many passes dropped tonight – I'd say around eight or nine as a whole unit.”
Magnolia West begins its eight-game District 8-5A Division I schedule next Friday at home against Lufkin.
After Temple's defense forced a punt on Magnolia West's game-opening possession, Arizmendi came out firing with a series of short, accurate passes to move the Wildcats to the Mustangs 38. Arizmendi's pump-fake froze a defender and allowed Allen to find nothing but open space down the left sideline for the touchdown – his second from Arizmendi in two weeks – and a 7-0 lead with 5 minutes gone after the first of senior Aaron Wagaman's four extra points.
Magnolia West answered immediately as the speedy Krop sprinted past Temple's secondary and caught Dalton's long pass in stride en route to a 64-yard touchdown and a 7-7 deadlock midway through the first quarter.
Undeterred, the Wildcats used Arizmendi's 14-yard pass to junior Tr'Darius Taylor, the quarterback's 14-yard run and Howard's 17-yard blast through the middle to reach the 7 before stellar blocking on the left side helped Howard – taking the shotgun snap – cruise in for the touchdown and a 14-7 Temple lead with 4:41 left in the opening period.
FUELING THE ATTACK: Temple junior running back Samari Howard rushed 17 times for 111 yards and two first-half touchdowns in the Wildcats' 28-13 road victory over Magnolia West on Friday night at Mustang Stadium. Temple's running game made positive strides after Howard was limited to 20 rushing yards and the Wildcats were contained to 37 in their season-opening 40-13 win over state-ranked Longview last week. Temple (2-0) plays its home opener against Arlington Martin (1-1) at 7 p.m. next Friday at Wildcat Stadium. (Photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)
Big, mobile tight end Marcus Collins' 45-yard reception from Dalton and Dalton's 14-yard dash on fourth-and-10 were the big plays as the Mustangs drove from their 20 to the Wildcats' 1, but Temple's defense stiffened on three consecutive running plays to push Magnolia West back to the 4 before Daniel Horn bounced a 21-yard field goal off the left upright and through on the second quarter's first play to trim the Wildcats' lead to 14-10.
Temple's offense sputtered on its next possession before the Mustangs converted two fourth downs on a clock-draining drive that moved them to the Wildcats' 22. But a 15-yard personal foul penalty stalled Magnolia West before Krop kicked a 39-yard field goal to bring the Mustangs within one point at 14-13 5:25 left until halftime.
Magnolia West then made another bid to take its first lead, using Bilbo's 25-yard dash and Nick Joseph's 39-yard jaunt to reach the 17, but Bilbo then fumbled on a run and the Wildcats recovered the ball on the 8 with 2:22 left to preserve their slim edge.
Temple's defense kept Bilbo (105 yards) out of the end zone after he rushed for 149 yards and four touchdowns in Magnolia West's 48-28 win at Brenham last Friday.
Arizmendi then threw to Allen for gains of 12 and 13 yards wrapped around two 15-yard penalties against the Mustangs before Arizmendi escaped pressure and rushed for a 36-yard gain to the 2. Taking another shotgun snap, Howard patiently ran off right tackle, cut back inside and crashed in for the touchdown – his third TD in Temple's first two games – with 17 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a 21-13 halftime advantage.
Both defenses dominated in a scoreless third quarter, with Temple senior nose tackle Jayven Taylor dropping Dalton for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-5 from the Wildcats' 31. Magnolia West's defense, led by disruptive junior end Hayden Jansky, picked up its pressure on Arizmendi and stopped him for losses of 7 and 9 yards.
On the fourth quarter's second play, the Wildcats finally got the spark they needed to create some separation. On fourth-and-1 at the Mustangs' 25, Howard blasted off right tackle, picked up a strong block by Allen and crashed to the 2 for a 23-yard gain.
Temple was pushed back to the 11 by a block-in-the-back penalty that negated a TD run by Howard, but Arizmendi then lofted a perfect fade pass that Harrison-Pilot caught in the back-left portion of the end zone – contorting his body to keep his toes in bounds – for the 11-yard touchdown and a 28-13 lead with 11 minutes remaining.
“Oh, wow,” Stewart said of the sophomore's nifty scoring grab. “Mikal's an unbelievable athlete. Watching him, you know at some point you're going to have that 'wow' factor. He's got a lot of that.”
Harrison-Pilot gained 41 yards on his team-high seven receptions and played multiple series at quarterback in the fourth quarter as Temple drained the clock.
Arizmendi's lost fumble on a bobbled snap with 10:20 left didn't come back to haunt the Wildcats, because their defense produced a turnover on downs at the Wildcats' 19.
After starting its season with back-to-back victories far from home, Temple will play its home opener at 7 p.m. next Friday against Arlington Martin (1-1) at Wildcat Stadium. Martin's Warriors hammered The Woodlands College Park 37-0 on Friday night in Groesbeck in a matchup that was put together during the middle of the week.
“I'm ready to defend our turf and ready to play at home finally in our third week of the season,” Howard said. “It's going to be fun. I know Arlington Martin's a real good team and it's going to be a real good game.”
TEMPLE 28, MAGNOLIA WEST 13
Temple 14 7 0 7 – 28
Mag West 7 6 0 0 – 13
Temple – Luke Allen 38 pass from Humberto Arizmendi (Aaron Wagaman kick), 7:08.
Magnolia West – Jeffrey Krop 64 pass from Brock Dalton (Daniel Horm kick), 6:07.
Temple – Samari Howard 7 run (Wagaman kick), 4:41.
Magnolia West – Horn 21 field goal, 11:52.
Magnolia West – Krop 39 field goal, 5:04.
Temple – Howard 2 run (Wagaman kick), 0:17.
Temple – Mikal Harrison-Pilot 11 pass from Arizmendi (Wagaman kick), 11:09.
First downs: Temple 26; Magnolia West 16.
Rushes-yards: Temple 35-167; Magnolia West 36-193.
Passing yards: Temple 205; Magnolia West 218.
Completions-attempts-interceptions: Temple 19-29-0; Magnolia West 17-36-1.
Punts-average: Temple 6-35.5; Magnolia West 4-36.5.
Fumbles-lost: Temple 1-1; Magnolia West 1-1.
Penalties-yards: Temple 7-65; Magnolia West 8-71.
Rushing – Temple: Howard 17-111, Arizmendi 9-39, Thomas McVade 5-16, Jalen Robinson 2-9, Harrison-Pilot 1-(-1), team 1-(-7); Magnolia West: Hunter Bilbo 18-105, Dalton 13-45, Nick Joseph 2-42, Jaydon Berryman 1-2; Jacob Friedrich 1-0, Trey Leggett 1-(-1),
Passing – Temple: Arizmendi 19-28-0-205, Harrison-Pilot 0-1-0-0; Magnolia West: Dalton 17-36-1-218.
Receiving – Temple: Allen 4-74, Harrison-Pilot 7-41, Tr'Darius Taylor 4-40, AJ McDuffy 2-27, Howard 1-13, Dylan Hinkle 1-10; Magnolia West: Krop 3-80, Marcus Collins 6-73, Leggett 7-64, Bilbo 1-1.