MAGNOLIA — Every now and then, the route taken isn’t the easiest or smoothest. Even still, the desired destination is reached.
Such was the case Friday night for Temple, which navigated twists, turns and a few bumps along the way for a grind-it-out 28-13 victory over Magnolia West at Mustang Stadium that moved the Wildcats to 2-0.
“That’s a sign of a potentially good team. Even when it’s ugly, you find a way to win,” Temple head coach Scott Stewart said after his defense recorded a second consecutive second-half shutout while allowing more than 400 yards and his offense scored just seven points after halftime yet still producing a much-needed 171 yards rushing.
Running back Samari Howard had 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns to get Temple’s ground attack on the move, and quarterback Humberto Arizmendi finished 19-of-28 for 205 yards and two scores — a 38-yard strike to Luke Allen in the first quarter and an 11-yard connection in the fourth with Mikal Harrison-Pilot, who tip-toed to stay in bounds in the back of the end zone.
Mixed into all of that were six punts and a lost fumble.
“There are lessons to be learned. With a young football team, you have to go through things like this,” Stewart said. “But, like I said, I’d rather play sloppy and come out with a win than play perfectly and get schooled.”
West quarterback Brock Dalton finished 17-of-35 for 216 yards, with one touchdown and an interception — corralled late in the fourth by Temple’s O’Tarian Peoples. Hunter Bilbo added 106 yards rushing but his fumble near halftime shifted momentum back to the Wildcats after the Mustangs had dictated the course of action for most of the second quarter.
A 21-point spree spanning less than 3 minutes of the first quarter included Allen’s 38-yard TD that capped Temple’s first possession, Jeffrey Krop’s 64-yard TD reception and Howard’s 7-yard touchdown run at 4:41 that boosted the Wildcats ahead 14-7.
Temple’s offense didn’t have it much the rest of the opening half and its defense bent but didn’t break, allowing just two field goals at the end of West 12-play and 16-play drives to preserve a 14-13 advantage.
Then after the Wildcats’ second straight punt and three West runs that gained 59 yards down to Temple’s 17-yard line, Bilbo fumbled and Carlton Mack pounced on the roller at the 8.
That’s where Temple’s offense regained its rhythm. Aided by pass interference and personal foul penalties against the Mustangs (1-1) and Arizmendi’s 36-yard scramble to the 2, Temple traveled 92 yards in 2:15 and went up 21-13 on Howard’s 2-yard TD.
“That set the tempo going into halftime,” Temple defensive back Keon Williams said of the turnover-turned-TD sequence. “It gave us the momentum and we came back out and shut them out. We just tried to minus all the little mistakes and keep positive.”
A quiet third quarter left Temple’s lead at 21-13 before Harrison-Pilot’s acrobatic catch boosted the advantage to 15, and West’s three possessions in the fourth quarter went punt, turnover on downs, punt, interception.
Temple, after playing more than 2 hours away from Wildcat Stadium during the first two weeks, has its home opener next Friday against Arlington Martin.
“I felt like we came in and took care of business last week and we were stingy. Not so much this week. But, bottom line, that plane down there at that end and that plane down there on that end, if they don’t cross it, they don’t get points,” Stewart said. “We’ve got to find the silver lining. We’ve got to find the positives. To come into somebody’s house that takes a lot of pride in their community, to pitch a shutout in the second half and come out with a win is tough to do.”
TEMPLE 28, MAGNOLIA WEST 13
Temple 14 7 0 7 — 28
West 7 6 0 0 — 13
Tem — Luke Allen 38 pass from Humberto Arizmendi (Aaron Wagaman kick)
West — Jeffrey Krop 64 pass from Brock Dalton (Daniel Horn kick)
Tem — Samari Howard 7 run (Wagaman kick)
West — Krop 39 field goal
Tem — Howard 2 run (Wagaman kick)
Tem — Mikal Harrison-Pilot 11 pass from Arizmendi (Wagaman kick)
First downs 22 15
Rushes-yards 35-171 36-195
Passing yards 205 216
Comp.-Att.-Int. 19-28-0 17-35-1
Punts-average 6-35.5 4-36.25
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 8-75 8-71
RUSHING — Temple: Howard 17-111, Arizmendi 9-43, Thomas McVade 5-16, Jalen Robinson 2-9, Harrison-Pilot 1-(-1), team 1-(-7); West: Hunter Bilbo 18-106, Dalton 13-45, Nick Joseph 2-42, Jaydon Berryman 1-2, Jacob Friedrich 1-1, Trey Leggett 1-(-1).
PASSING — Temple: Arizmendi 19-28-0-205, Harrison-Pilot 0-1-0-0; West: Dalton 17-35-1-216.
RECEIVING — Temple: Harrison-Pilot 7-41, Allen 4-74, Tr’Darius Taylor 4-40, AJ McDuffy 2-27, Howard 1-13, Dylan Hinkle 1-10; West: Leggett 7-64, Marcus Collins 6-71, Krop 3-80, Bilbo 1-1.