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Temple beats Memphis 41-21

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CLAY BAILEY | November 30, 2013 05:35 PM EST | AP

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis coach Justin Fuente could do little but tip his cap to Temple's ability to rebound from a tough season.

Memphis was unable to get much going offensively, its nationally-ranked defense gave up 500-plus yards, and Temple defeated the Tigers 41-21 on Saturday.

"They showed up and beat us in every facet of the game," Memphis coach Justin Fuente said. "(Temple coach ) Matt (Rhule) and his staff did a great job of keeping those kids committed and getting them ready to play hard. And that's how they won the game."

Sam Craft scored all three Memphis touchdowns — on runs of 1 and 3 yards and a 10-yard pass from Paxton Lynch.

"Temple came out and hit us hard," Craft said. "You never come into a game expecting to play like that. .I tried to make plays for the team, and it was the best performance I've had this year. But I'm not satisfied with what we did."

P.J. Walker threw for 328 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Robby Anderson, to lead Temple, which snapped a four-game losing streak.

It was a different closing quarter for the Owls. Temple (2-10, 1-7 American Athletic Conference) had led or been tied entering the fourth quarter the last four games only to be outscored in the final frame leading to losses.

The Owls scored 10 points down the stretch to preserve the victory over Memphis.

"It's unbelievably satisfying," Rhule said of the finish. "I believe winning is a process, and we started out the year not always playing good football. Then we started playing good football in the second half and not the first. Then we started playing good football through three quarters, and to finally finish it was what we needed."

Walker completed 20 of 32 passes. Anderson had 96 yards receiving, including scoring catches of 1, 11 and 21 yards. Chris Coyer had three receptions for 129 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch.

Temple's offense dominated the nationally-ranked Memphis defense, amassing 534 yards in total offense. Memphis (3-8, 1-6) managed only 228 yards.

Besides Walker's four touchdown passes, the Owls scored when Michael Felton recovered a blocked punt in the end zone. Nick Visco kicked field goals from 22 and 19 yards.

Temple mangled the Memphis defense, which entered the game ranked 16th nationally. By halftime, Temple not only led 17-7, but had racked up 310 yards.

Meanwhile, the Owls defense, ranked last in the conference, held the Tigers to a scant 74 yards, as Memphis had the ball only 8:32 of the half.

"The defense did an unbelievable job from start to finish," said linebacker Tyler Matakevich, who had eight tackles on the day, including two for losses. "The offense did their part and look at the outcome."

Memphis' offense was stagnant from the start. Lynch was having trouble getting the ball past the line of scrimmage. His first three passes were batted away, including two by Kamal Johnson.

"To start like we did and to finish, that's what we've been preaching all year," Matakevich said. "Unfortunately, it came so late. We were so close throughout the whole year."

Walker, who took over the starting quarterback role in midseason, said closing out the game without giving up the lead and closing out the season on a winning note, should help the Owls build during the offseason.

"It's very satisfying," Walker said. "We ended up on a really good note. We put up a lot of yards offensively and the defense did a great job giving us good field position. We're just going to bring this momentum into next season."