PHILADELPHIA — For the sixth time this season, and for the fourth time in the fourth quarter, the Temple Owls couldn't hold on to a lead.
After two last-minute losses in its last two games, Temple blew a 21-point halftime lead and gave up four unanswered touchdowns in the second half Saturday night to lose to UConn, 28-21, at Lincoln Financial Field.
While all of the Owls' late losses have stung in different ways this season, this one just happened to come on Senior Night and by way of a pick-six.
"I'm extremely frustrated and angry at the way we played in the second half," Temple coach Matt Rhule said.
"I just told the team what I really think. At the end of the day, you can't win football games if you're going to turn the ball over and have penalties."
Temple's come up with some pretty entertaining ways to lose this season, losing twice on the opposition's final play of the game.
In this case, the defense couldn't hold on two different fourth-and-goals from the 1-yard line and freshman quarterback P.J. Walker threw an interception with 4:20 to play, that UConn linebacker Yawin Smallwood returned 59 yards into the end zone.
"I didn't anticipate the window to close like that," Walker said. "I should have just held onto the ball waiting for another player to be open."
Walker attempted to tie the game on its final drive but his final heave to end zone fell incomplete with 38 seconds remaining. He finished 26 for 46 for 280 yards passing, 49 yards rushing and two touchdowns but also committed three turnovers on two fumbles and the game-deciding interception.
While Uconn (1-9, 1-6) finally won its first game of the year, Temple (1-10, 0-7) remains winless in the American. The last time the Owls won a league game was Oct. 13, 2012 -- at UConn.
Things started out promising enough, when the Owls opened the scoring in the first quarter on a six-yard Walker run up the middle in the first quarter that was set up by an Abdul Smith interception of Cochran. For Smith, a senior, it was his first career interception and only Temple's third pick this season. Temple proceeded to score on its next two possessions -- on an eight-yard Walker touchdown pass to wide receiver Robby Anderson and an 18-yard Zaire Williams rush -- and took a 21-0 lead into the break.
Temple ended up outgaining UConn 372-235 in total, but couldn't stop itself from forfeiting yet another second-half lead. It didn't help the Owls rushed for negative-one yard in the second half.
It also didn't help that UConn had six straight tries at the end zone from one yard out. Temple actually stopped UConn on a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter but cornerback Anthony Robey was called for pass interference on fourth-and-goal, allowing UConn a fresh set of downs at the goal line. Temple then proceeded to stop three straight rushes at the 1-yard line but could not stop Cochran on the Huskies second fourth down from the goal line.
Two minutes and 32 seconds later, Walker couldn't catch Smallwood on his touchdown return.
Temple has blown a lead in the fourth quarter its last three games in a row, losses to Rutgers, UCF and now UConn.
"Whether you win or lose, I'd like to feel like we're the most excited team playing out there," Rhule said. "To me, turnovers and penalties are the result of focus."
A focus Temple hasn't had in the second half this season.
"They just outplayed us in the second half," Rhule added. "We had turnovers and penalties and every time we got a stop, we allowed them to convert on fourth down. I didn't think we played good football in the second half."