The arrival of blustery, misty weather at Wildcat Stadium on Friday night did nothing to cool off senior quarterback Vance Willis and Temple’s red-hot offense.
And with star junior running back Kadarius Marshall and North Texas-committed defensive tackle Ta’Shoyn Johnson missing the game because of injuries, the struggling Killeen Kangaroos simply didn’t have the firepower to slow the Wildcats’ growing momentum.
Willis threw touchdown passes to Quentin Johnston, AJ McDuffy and KD Freeman and also rushed for four TDs of 16-plus yards to pace an unrelenting 564-yard attack as Temple beat old rival Killeen 56-27, extending the Wildcats’ winning streak to five games and keeping them tied for the District 12-6A lead with Hewitt Midway.
“(Marshall and Johnson are) two phenomenal football players, so you take two of the best players off of any team and it’s going to make a difference,” said Temple coach Scott Stewart, whose Wildcats (5-1, 4-0) lost junior starting defensive lineman Isaiah Fach to a first-quarter leg injury. “I hate to see kids be done for the season.”
It didn’t matter to Temple’s players who the opponent had on the field.
“We didn’t know about anybody being out (for Killeen). We thought they had their whole team. But we weren’t worried about it anyway. We came up with a game plan and we attacked them the same way as if they were playing,” Willis, a first-year starter, said after accounting for 409 yards of total offense and a career-best seven touchdowns in the first three quarters.
Willis rushed for 194 yards with touchdowns of 50, 16, 18 and 67 yards to spearhead Temple’s 349-yard ground charge, which included Anthony Jackson’s 89 yards with a 39-yard TD. Although Willis threw his first interception since the Wildcats’ second game, he passed for 215 yards that included a 30-yard touchdown strike to Texas commitment Johnston, a 34-yard score to McDuffy — his fifth TD in four games — and a 15-yard TD to Freeman.
“We’re trying to get everyone the ball and spread the love,” Willis said.
After Temple ran past rival Belton 66-34 last week, its cohesive offensive line continued to display dominant form in another runaway victory.
“The chemistry we have has been (building) for years, really,” said Wildcats senior center Markel Carter, who blocked a second-quarter extra point. “All the team dinners and the stuff we do outside of football, it’s really a family.”
Willis certainly appreciates his teammates up front.
“They’re giving me so much time back there. I can’t thank them enough,” he said. “I tell them, ‘I can’t do this without y’all.’”
Already having a difficult season, Killeen (1-6, 1-4) lost Marshall to what Kangaroos coach Neil Searcy called a season-ending shoulder injury in last week’s loss to Killeen Shoemaker and also was without Johnson and two other defensive starters.
Killeen passed for 213 yards and rushed for 190, but quarterback James Terry threw first-half interceptions to freshman safety Mikal Harrison-Pilot and senior linebacker Quincy Marshall.
“We had a lot of guys taking their first varsity snaps, but hat’s off to Temple,” said Searcy, who got 119 yards rushing with touchdowns of 45, 4 and 1 yards from running back Emory Arthur, just promoted from junior varsity. “They did a great job.”
TEMPLE 56, KILLEEN 27
Killeen 6 13 0 8 — 27
Temple 21 21 14 0 — 56
Tem — Quentin Johnston 30 pass from Vance Willis (Aaron Wagaman kick)
Kil — Davontay Monroe 28 pass from James Terry (kick failed)
Tem — AJ McDuffy 34 pass from Willis (Wagaman kick)
Tem — Willis 50 run (Wagaman kick)
Tem — Willis 16 run (Wagaman kick)
Kil — Emory Arthur 45 run (kick blocked)
Tem — Anthony Jackson 39 run (Wagaman kick)
Kil — Arthur 4 run (Tra-bi Diakite kick)
Tem — Willis 18 run (Wagaman kick)
Tem — KD Freeman 15 pass from Willis (Wagaman kick)
Tem — Willis 67 run (Wagaman kick)
Kil — Arthur 1 run (Terry run)
First downs 20 27
Rushes-yards 38-190 44-349
Passing yards 213 215
Comp.-Att.-Int. 17-32-2 12-19-1
Punts-average 2-36.5 0
Fumbles-lost 0 0
Penalties-yards 3-15 3-32
RUSHING — Killeen: Arthur 21-119, Jacobia Thomas 1-39, Javon McDonald 4-18, Monroe 1-13, Brandon Fox 2-4, Milan Kemp-Murray 1-3, Terry 7-2, Quamon Williams 1-(-8); Temple: Willis 14-194, Jackson 9-89, Samari Howard 10-51, Thomas McVade 3-25, Montavian Carlysle 2-11, Luke Allen 2-1, Ky’Juan Pugh 3-1, team 1-(-23).
PASSING — Killeen: Terry 16-30-2-210, Fox 1-2-0-3; Temple: Willis 12-19-1-215.
RECEIVING — Killeen: Williams 2-66, Monroe 3-38, Fox 2-37, Nate Kamper 4-31, Arthur 4-30, Gregory Gant 2-11; Temple: Johnston 4-62, McDuffy 3-59, Carlysle 2-53, Freeman 2-29, Howard 1-12.