The Owls made sure the outcome of the third annual Mayor’s Cup would not come down to the final moments of the game again with city-rival Villanova, as the Cherry and White won handedly 42–7 on Thursday.
In series history, the Wildcats and Owls each traded game-winning scores in the remaining few seconds of regulation with the Owls claiming the cup last season. However, the Owls ran-away with game 3 from the start, scoring six unanswered touchdowns and sealing Steve Addazio’s first win as head coach.
“I’m awful proud of our football team and our staff,” Addazio said. “These first games are all about coming out and playing physical and playing hard and I thought that happened.”
Leading the Owls’ offense to an effective running game was junior running back Bernard Pierce, who scored three touchdowns with a total of 147 rushing yards on 20 carries. Redshirt junior Mike Gerardi, who received the nod to start at quarterback, went 14–20-0 to convert 235 passing yards, and two touchdowns.
“It’s the first game and you want to be able to get some momentum,” Addazio said. “We wanted to be a tough, physical football team and we were able to get the run game going, which really allows you to do that and throw some shots down the field. So that early momentum was terrific for us.”
Addazio added that he thought the offensive linemen worked well together throughout the game that consisted of 20 pass plays and 40 running plays. Senior starters left tackle Pat Boyle, left guard Derek Dennis, center John Palumbo, right guard Wayne Tribue, and junior right tackle Martin Wallace paced the offensive attack.
“We’re not that deep right now [at offensive line], so we’re concerned about that,” Addazio said. “But the six guys that played, I thought they played really well. They re-established the line of scrimmage.”
Pressure and hard-hitting play from the Owls’ defense created two forced fumbles and three interceptions during a game that belonged to the home team. Sophomore linebacker Blaze Caponegro recorded a team-high seven tackles, while senior linebacker Tahir Whitehead penetrated the Wildcat offensive line to make five tackles (3 TFL).
An alert secondary was led by junior strong safety Justin Gildea and senior free safety Kevin Kroboth, who combined to account for three interceptions. The Owls’ pass defense held Villanova to 153 passing yards, as the Wildcats only managed one rushing touchdown.
“You don’t want to give them one drive because you never know what that drive is going to do,” Kroboth said.
Addazio said he felt supported in his first home game from the 8,000 or more Temple student body fans. The total attendance (32,638) at the game was the second-largest crowd that has ever attended a Temple football game at the Lincoln Financial Field.
“[The attendance] is just a great thing to see to know that major college football culture is here in Philadelphia,” Addazio said.