Versatile Romond DeLoatch helping Owls score on both sides of the ball

Versatile Romond DeLoatch helping Owls score on both sides of the ball
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Upon further review, Romond DeLoatch’s moment in history will have to wait for another day.

But as long as Temple keeps pounding opponents into submission the way the Owls did in Saturday’s 45-20 blowout of SMU, he insists he doesn’t mind.

Still, it would’ve been something special had the 6-foot-4, 220 poundDeLoatch joined Utah’s Eric Weddle (2006) and Stanford’s Owen Marecic (2010) by scoring touchdowns from both sides of the ball in the same game. Only a replay reversal of DeLoatch’s apparent first quarter score after rumbling 35 yards with a Philip Walker pass into the end zone kept him from such rarefied air.

Because just a few minutes later, Hassan Reddick jarred the ball loose from SMU quarterback Ben Hicks. DeLoatch scooped it up and romped home from 8 yards out.

“I thought I was in the first time, but the referee saw something different,” said the redshirt senior from Hampton, Virginia, after the Owls erased Walker’s pick six to SMU’s Jordan Wyatt in the opening minute by scoring the next 35 points within a 13-minute span. “But when I picked up that fumble I said to myself ‘This time I’m gonna score a touchdown.’

“I’m proud of that.”

Meanwhile, 3-2 Owls’ coach Matt Rhule was proud of the way his team took command after that early turnover. He also liked how his defensive line, which had only five sacks for the season coming into this one, racked up four in this one, two by Reddick.

“It felt good to finally getting a consistent pass rush,” said Reddick, as the Owls were able to tee off against the overmatched Mustangs most of the day. “We did our thing.We stopped the run game early, which forced them to pass. It created more pass rushing opportunities for the defensive line.”

Which led to DeLoatch, who never had played defense — including high school — until he was “punished” for showing up late for practice one day, getting his big chance.

“I was lucky to be there to pick the ball up,” said DeLoatch, who had the Owls’ only sack in last week’s 48-20 blowout of Charlotte. “I have to thank those guys for getting the sack.I’m still trying to get better and better and still have a lot to work on. But I’m happy to give the defense what we have to give them a breather.”

He just finds it ironic the way it all came about.

“I came in late once my sophomore year,” explained DeLoatch, who’s caught six touchdown passes in his career, but none this season on five catches for 167 yards. “The coach said ‘OK, go to the defensive end room.’ I went in there and made a couple of plays. He says’ You know what, everything happens for a reason.’

“So in spite of me getting in trouble, it was good for the team.”

Rhule and company appreciate it.

“He is really just bought into the time it takes to be able to play two positions, and play on special team,” said Rhule, whose team rushed for 268 yards, 159 of them and two touchdowns by sophomore Ryquell Armstead. “He comes in extra to make sure he knows both sides of the ball. He was doing it in the spring, so he has a good solid base of both sides.”

He just never knows how often he’ll be called.

“I knew coming in I’d play both ways, but I didn’t know I’d play this much on defense,” admitted DeLoatch, who also plays special teams. “They called my name, so I tried to make plays and help my team get a win.

“I did get a little tired, but it’s awesome to be on the field on both sides of the ball. I’m proud of myself and proud of the team.”

But there’s little time to bask in the glory, since the Owls go right back at it Thursday night in Memphis. “We did this last year with East Carolina and is a challenge,” conceded Rhule, who lost some key defensive players in this one and already had others banged up,“but we know Memphis is a really good team.

“We will do the best we can to access our injury situation first and then make sure we are fresh and prepared.”

So will Romond DeLoatch, tight end, defensive lineman, special teamer, who came oh so close to making history Saturday.

Oh, well. Maybe next time.

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